For what feels like millennia, I have engaged in battle with two of the foulest, most irritating tribes I have ever encountered. They are cunning, ingenious, slick and well-entrenched. They work in tandem and sometimes apart; but their primary objective is to subvert my wishes and undermine my already war-weary confidence. The war is ongoing. The battlefield is inside my skull.
The Should’s chief weapon is morality. (And fear. Fear and morality…) This faction barrages me with questions. Am I spending each moment correctly? Do I make enough money? Does my life appear the way it should…
The Should’s infect the brain. I am obviously on the wrong path. I’m not where everyone else is. I am wrong.
My position as a father and a citizen and a husband and a human being at thirty-six years of age means something. These aren’t just facts to digest; they each have their own moral imperatives which make the entire sandwich impossible to swallow. My defense is simple. I remind the Should’s that they don’t really exist. They are from a fantastic world of anal-retentive lame-o’s and worrisome mothers.
The Supposed-to’s are a close cousin and use a lot of the same methods. However, they also employ the world around me. The advertisements and cinematic themes and premises and images and taglines. They are after your wallet and the collateral damage is guilt and a horrible self-image.
What the Supposed-to’s can’t stand are people who can see through them. They are fairly transparent so it is not difficult if you inspect them thoroughly. After that, you can punch a hole right through the center as if they were soft pizza dough.
I will not worry about swine flu. I didn’t worry about monkey pox or avian flu. I didn’t worry about E coli or the West Nile virus either. I didn’t worry about space junk, lead-laced Chinese toys or bad spinach. I didn’t stop eating peanut butter, lettuce, chicken or pork for any reason.
I never sweated SARS or radon or asbestos. I never checked the threat level (but who did?). I never, not for a single second, thought anything was going to happen on Y2K.
Why? It’s simple. There are some things in this world that are binary. Act or Do Not Act. I cannot control any of those things aside from the same precautions I take on a daily basis. I cannot act, so I don’t worry. Years ago, it nearly killed me, and it was all for nothing. Worrying is dumb shit we do in this country when we feel helpless and without control. All it does is keep you watching cable news and the commercials in between. It ravages our stomachs with unnecessary acid buildup.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t watch the news. I get about five minutes a week of coverage that isn’t on Comedy Central. Don’t tell me I’m irresponsible. I get what I need and I’m not a glutton. The rest of the time is spent with fiction, literature and comedy.
Why? Because the Supposed-to’s and the Should’s are telling me otherwise. I can’t let them win.