… it’s a word to designate present guilt for future failings.
From the old English to be obliged.
It’s a messy word, full of half-meant imperatives. If you “should” call someone, I can already feel your reluctance. There’s something about that call that you’re dreading. It’s this thought that won’t leave you alone, but you’re half in and half out. And already there is guilt associated because of the implied obligation, and the implied reluctance… It’s just sticky and gross. The feeling that goes with should is sticky and gross, every time.
It’s a harsh judgement, this should word. I should have been smarter. It implies that was some way you could have known then what you now know. Retroactively expecting yourself to do anything but what you did at the time with the information you had… you see how that becomes all tangled with itself.
I should exercise. Can’t you hear the resistance? The guilt?
Should shows up in two cases: when we’re self-flogging or when we’re feeling reluctance.
Well, guess what. You shouldn’t be further along. You shouldn’t be smarter. You are exactly where you are right now, the culmination of millions of decisions both big and small, and a million more reactions to things out of your control. There’s nothing in the past that holds any water today and there’s nothing in the future that you can bet on either. You can’t uneat that cupcake, you can’t undo the fact that you slept through your alarm. You can’t go back to yesterday and make that phone call.
Every second you spend on should is stolen from the teeth of what is possible right now. Every second you waste on should just adds to your regrets for tomorrow. What an effing waste of time.
You’re here now. What are you going to do with it?