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In our modern busy lives, we’re faced with a lot of choices of how to spend our time. Given the fact that we each only have 24 hours (technically slightly less than that) a day, and the fact that- as we get older- the months and years start to whiz by, how we choose to spend our time and energy is actually really important. For me, these are pretty much the most significant decisions I make, and frankly, it stresses me out a little sometimes. I spend a lot of time indoors against my will (I have to pay the bills somehow), and so I really want to enjoy myself and pursue my interests when I can.

Here’s where it gets tricky: on the one hand, I appear to be indulgent and hedonistic, as I tend to run off just to go and plop on a beach for an hour; on the other hand, I feel like I SHOULD be doing something specific like going to yoga. But the thing is, some days, I don’t want to do what I feel like I SHOULD be doing. I think everyone has this dilemma: I SHOULD go study more, I SHOULD work late on this project, I SHOULD get a real job, etc. And it doesn’t apply only to the big life stuff, but it applies to the little stuff too: Should I go into the used bookstore? Should I go to yoga or take a bubble bath?

I think that we as a society really need to redefine “should” so that it loses that normative oppressive tone. I think should should be reinterpreted to encompass what would genuinely make our lives better. I tend to think about life in terms of what my future self will regret; if I have any inclination that I will regret a certain action, I do the opposite. And I am pretty sure that my future self will prefer to err on the side of fun versus responsibility. Life is short; we have no idea how long we may be present on this earth. If this is the year the world ends, I want to have spent it doing everything I could to find happiness and experience life fully. If the present is the only reality, shouldn’t the present be fantastic?

Maybe this is all crazy talk, but I hope at least it makes you ponder the issue the next time you ask yourself what you should be doing, and that it leads you down the more fulfilling path. Happy trails!

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Christine


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