What You Should Be Doing, Part 1

I often think of things to write when I’m showering or when I’m brushing my teeth. They’re good thoughts, but most of the time after I’m done I forget what it was I wanted to write about because my first focus after either of those tasks is reaching for the towel. I think I can remember what I was thinking about just now when I was brushing my teeth, so I’ll try to post it all here.

It’s late night (or early morning), almost 4 AM. I love staying up late (I’ve posted about it before). Tonight I did try to go to sleep before 2, but I couldn’t. Unlike the recent past, it wasn’t because of too much coffee or sleeping in really late the day before. Maybe I was hungry, or maybe I’ve had a lot on my mind. I wasn’t consciously thinking about anything, though. I played with my new Nexus tablet. I ate. Then, I went to brush my teeth. As I scrubbed, in my mind I wrote this blog post in a cohesive manner from beginning to end, with each paragraph stemming logically from the one before it. As you can see, it’s not happening now.

So, I suppose I’ll get to the point. What you should be doing. Or rather, what I should be doing.

Throughout my life I have been told implicitly and explicitly what I should be doing. On a micro scale, when I was a child, I was told that I should be polite to my elders, that I should address them when I meet with them, that I should be a good boy. On a macro scale, I followed the path of going to school, working hard, getting good grades, and moving up the ranks from 1st grade, 2nd grade, middle school, high school, college/university, all the way to my first job and subsequent career. Later on, I created my own “should be doings,” such as saving money, working hard (again?), and basically just being a stand-up guy.

I will say (again) that I haven’t been too happy since returning home from our trip. It’s not like I’m miserable either, but I know that I’m not as happy as I could be. And why is that? I think that’s what I figured out when I was brushing my teeth.

Much of my life has been one big “what should I be doing?” That question is constantly on my mind. The things that I think I should be doing now include deciding whether to move to Hong Kong, taking care of my finances after such a long and expensive trip, getting a part-time job, preparing an inventory of what I’m going to bring if I move. Or, at an even more basic level, I should be going to sleep and waking up at designated hours, I should be eating my fruits and vegetables, I should be exercising, I should be eating three square meals a day. Should should should. That’s my problem, too many shoulds.

The reality is, right now I don’t want to do a lot of those things that I think I should be doing. The light bulb “ding” moment while I was brushing was when I realized that this is the reason I’ve been down (again, I don’t want to say I’ve been miserable). When I play Gran Turismo 5 for an extended period, I feel guilty afterwards. When I play Catherine and further push out posting recaps of our trip on this site, I feel guilty afterwards. When I think that I don’t have a job and that I’m living with my mother, I feel like a loser afterwards.

Could it be that “should” has been hammered into my head for so long that my default response is to feel miserable when I go in a different direction? Is it like surgeons or military personnel “falling back on their training” during a time of crisis, to just do without thinking? If I slow down and actually think about it, then the answer is yes.

My eyes are closing… more tomorrow.