Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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Forget Should

Should is a dumb word.

I should do something is a way of saying that you academically know of the need or benefits of doing something, but that you are still not doing it. It may be delayed, or it may never happen. But it is a method of putting yourself at odds with yourself. You aren’t saying “I’m going to.” You aren’t saying “I’m not going to.” You are just setting yourself up as divided. In a parallel universe there is a version of you, the better version, that is doing this action. But here in this universe you are stuck as the imperfect being, the lazy, the procrastinating, the person who is not living your fully actualized life.

Should is a word that I am going to attempt to eliminate from my vocabulary. It isn’t something I should do. It is something I will work to do.

Should is a battle I’ve had many times over. Whenever I should be working but I end up playing video games or hanging out or sleeping, I don’t enjoy those activities as much. The lingering work is hovering over me, tapping my shoulder periodically to keep me from being in the moment. And the should keeps cropping up in conversation. Think back to any day in college or at work. The sheer amount of time spent discussing what work we should be doing. And so conversation is made less fun by complaining about the should, and the work doesn’t get done because of the conversation. Both sides are spoiled.

When I’ve been hit with a seemingly-critical piece of information, I always feel like I should be feeling something. When my ex-fiancée told me she was engaged, I felt like I should be feeling something. I didn’t know if that something was sadness, or happiness, or loneliness, or a sense of loss. But I couldn’t just appreciate the academic fact, I kept waiting for it to hit me. When I was leading up to leaving, I kept being surprised at how well I was taking the impending end of my relationships. I thought I should be feeling more upset to be ending things. And so there was the sporadic thought of, “What is wrong with me? Why don’t I feel something?” And all that worry was for naught. Sure enough, when the time came to say goodbyes I was plenty sad, debilitatingly so.

When I am dealing with depression or ennui, there is that part of me that knows how awesome feeling awesome feels. And so I think that I should just stop being sad and be awesome instead. And when that doesn’t work, the fissure opens up. The chasm between where I am and where I should be seems wide. And so I get frustrated at myself for not just being there, for being unable to just step across. And so the frustration and anger adds onto the depression and the gap widens. And the more I am aware of this and watch it happen the more the gap grows. It is a downward spiral.

And so when I got here, I was sad and isolated, but I didn’t want to go out and change that. I didn’t want to take the energy to connect and interact. I didn’t want to go out clubbing with the other backpackers. And that was okay. I started to allow myself to feel what I was feeling, and to be where I was. If I was hungry, I ate. If I was tired, I slept. If I wanted to sit around and relax, I did. And so last night, on my first Saturday night in Sydney, when everyone else was starting to pre-game in the kitchen taking shots and drinking box wine, I took my computer and sat down and relaxed. When everyone else wandered out into the night for a bout of drinking and revelry, I wandered to my room and prepped for bed. It didn’t matter that anyone would have said I should go out since it was Saturday. It wasn’t what I wanted.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance”

Forget should.

One comment on “Forget Should

  1. Sam
    November 30, 2012

    This is wonderful. Really enjoyed reading. 🙂 It is an interesting pull between what you think you should be doing and what you feel like doing. Ah balance. Oh and yes, Ralph Waldo Emerson does always say such good stuff.

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This entry was posted on November 20, 2011 by in Australia, NSW (Sydney).

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