Because a life unexamined is lived without intention.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
It's funny how a casual conversation can lead down roads one completely does not anticipate. Theoretically this can be thrilling....sometimes horrifying, and often in my case, linger for days like a kettle of soup on the back burner of an old dingy stove. It sits there, simmering. The bubble and splatter a hiss behind my thoughts, dripping through my consciousness, marring the ordered harmony I'm striving for.
Thus a recent afternoon and a discussion of roles. Ah now, I can nearly feel you pull back from the screen, such treacherous ground I broach. Responsibilities and chores and territory and earning potential. Parents, children, lovers and loners...who does what and when but perhaps most importantly, why.
It was a long talk. Hours that meandered the way true friendship does, through tears and laughter, swearing that would shock the non-present children. Sighs. The world isn't as neat as it used to be, it seems. I fear this may have more to do with my age than anything else, but it unsettles me. We covered marriage and lack of sleep and sisters. Easter fiascos, financial pressure....and I became suddenly aware that the word "should" was inhabiting nearly every sentence.
"I know, I should do it because..." "I shouldn't get angry...." "Maybe I should..."
And I paused. Who wrote the shoulds? Don't get me wrong, within the should lies the foundational difference between the mature and the idiot. Somewhere in the process of "you should brush your teeth" you begin to want to, right? (the benefits of such action are appreciated by yourself as well as the people around you) And though going to work is a choice--you should. Well, if you want to eat, that is. But rather than a should, I think that is more just one of life's equations, the reality that is. (one plus one does indeed equal two)
But what of the shoulds that haunt us. I should want to hug her. I should be happy with this. I shouldn't be upset about that. Where the hell did these shoulds come from? Is it my conscience? The voice of my mother perhaps? Society? (you shouldn't make eye contact with the attractive man checking you out, you're married) The neighbors? (you should mow your lawn) Co-workers? (you shouldn't say that) The old lady at the bank? (you should wear a bra when you're depositing checks) I feel as if this mountain of shoulds is towering over us, its shadow a dark thing.
Could this be why anti-depressants are now the third most commonly prescribed drug? Are we twisting ourselves into knots of flesh and sadness, attempting to accommodate the shoulds? I've listened to so many people in the last five years or so, who feel broken. Disappointed. Frustrated. They somehow aren't living up to everyone's expectations, even their own.
It's time we stood our ground, grappled with the shoulds. Instead of "you shouldn't be mad over that," how about, "well, dammit. I am." So deal with the mad. Admit the mad. Bring it out in the light and parade it around the room. Cramming it under the blanket of should, squashing it deep inside, is battering our souls. Are we loving like many go to church? Because they should? What happened to wanting? If you no longer want to....perhaps you need to face why rather than just continuing to do what you should. Wanting isn't everything, but it is a crucial ingredient in true joy.
How strange in this modern era filled with gender-neutral fashion, stay-at-home dads, and the cracking of the glass ceiling...we still cannot seem to manage the shoulds. They scrape our minds and cling to our backs. Do you recognize the shoulds that chase you? I am going to challenge mine. I've had enough of them.
I have absolutely no intention of ever wearing a bra unless I want to.