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  • Jan Flynn

In A Should-Hole Country

I should have started this post earlier.

It’s 10:30 on a Sunday morning as I write this. By now, I should have done my daily yoga practice, worked out with free weights, walked the dog, and written 1,000 words.

I haven’t done any of the things I should have.

And then I remembered! It’s my grandnephew’s birthday today. I should have sent him a gift last week.

“I should have reminded you,” says my sweet husband, who in fact did, some time ago. “Well, I should have reminded you again.”

Welcome to Should-Hole Country. My better half and I, being earnest and well-meaning types, spend considerable time here. More time than we should, certainly.  In SHC, we labor under the misapprehension that berating ourselves with a sense of obligation will motivate us to be better people, or at least bear witness to our good intentions.

In a previous post I have noted where good intentions lead.

We know better. And yet we continue to fall into this error, wherein we should all over ourselves. It’s a bad habit, or possibly an addiction — since two of the hallmarks of addiction are (1) continued use (of whatever) despite knowledge that doing so is harmful, and (2) despite aforementioned knowledge, a stubborn belief that continued use offers some benefit.

I think it’s (2) that sends us to Should-Hole Country so frequently. As a mental practice, it certainly ranks as Number Two. So what is its appeal?

While doing what we actually feel like doing, which probably involves sitting on the couch reading or binge-watching Altered Carbonwe can still stake a claim at being productive by declaring what we should do or have done or even will do, perhaps in a parallel universe.

The phrases I should be or I should have, as oppressive and disheartening as they are, keep us tethered to a moral high ground. And although that high ground is illusory, it’s hard to give up.

We’re not really pleasure-seeking slouches, you see.

Except that, some of the time, we absolutely are.

And what’s so wrong with that? Time to flush the pile of should, I say, and embrace the deliciousness of doing exactly what we want to do in the moment. After all, such moments are rare enough.

So I hereby declare my resolve to knock it off, to quit polluting my simpler joys with a load of stinking should. Like any bad habit, it will take some effort to dismantle. But I’m ready to wipe it out.

Enough with the unfortunate imagery, right?

Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes. Maybe I should keep a daily record . . .

As always, your comments are avidly sought and deeply appreciated!

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