Sunday, September 03, 2006

Should Not Should

I spend a fair amount of time not doing what I think I should be doing. Instead of cleaning the house, I sit around reading. Instead of reading philosophy, I read a novel. Instead of reading a novel, I flip through a magazine.

Or, I write a piece for the blog when I ought to be working on the new book Richard Leider and I are now under contract for.

This makes me feel sort of guilty, but the overriding emotion is more like nervous fascination: I’m curious to see how far I’ll push it before the rising tide of responsibility overwhelms me and forces me into more appropriately productive behavior.

I wonder if any other animals than human beings go through this. Does my dog, when she’s lying in the front hall, think, “I really should be outside chasing a ball?”

I didn’t used to be this way; as a kid, I always did my homework as soon as it was assigned—the sooner it was done, the sooner I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Now, however, I’ve become something of a procrastinator. (Perhaps in the back of my mind I’m thinking that, at my age, if I put onerous tasks off long enough, I eventually won’t be around to have to do them.)

My hippie side tells me that you can’t not be doing what you should; whatever you’re doing is what you ought to be doing. But then here’s me thinking I should be thinking that when I’m not.

I’m watching Andre Agassi in obvious pain as he struggles through his third round match at the U.S. Open. The commentators are conjecturing whether he should be playing or not. But if he weren’t, then they’d be wondering whether he should, so the question seems inescapable either way.

So since everything we do is potentially questionable; maybe the only thing we ought not do is question whether we ought not do what we’re doing.


Anonymous Michael R said...

Don't should on yourself.

7:35 PM  

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