Friday, May 03, 2013

In which I forego the use of "should" except in the strictest didactical use cases

My current exercise of mind is this: I am giving up should.

Should, the dictionary tells us, is the past tense of shall, but really, it is so much more than that. It is forever the favoured tool of torment of the Supposed Moral Imperative. I demonstrate:

"I really should get the camera fixed"
"You should really lose some weight"
"He should have ordered pizza"

Most common usage:
"I should get more exercise"

Consider this for a moment. Should assumes that there is a correct way of going through life and you, my dear, are not doing it right. A thousand cats on the internet tell you


Moreover, should is vague. Is it necessary? Is it desirable? If so, why not say so? There is also an implied third person here. Whether that is a super ego, your internalised 3rd grade English teacher, or the internet, the implication here is someone out there is judging you. While they may indeed be judging you, there is surely no need to ventriloquise?

In truth, if I am in charge of my own actions, there are only two options: I either want to do something, or need to do it. If neither, why do it? If both, well yathzee! I surely can bloody well take responsibility for what I do, or can't do?

So here goes, try it out:

"I don't want to get the camera fixed, but I need it for panoramic dog photography. So, hello obnoxious quest for service!"

And better still:

"The hell with gyms. I'm going for a walk. And then I am going to write."

Best of all:
"Who the hell are you to tell me how I should look. Am I to be weighed in a sling? Also, pizza makes me bloated. LONG LIVE INDIAN FOOD."

Well, no. The best of all, I find, is that now I have to figure out what is enjoyable, what is critical, and what is not. I want to learn how to touch type (embarrassing, I know). I want to learn archery! I need to get the car fixed (atually in the shop now!).

It's taking me a while to switch, but I swear it makes me consider what I do and why for all the right reasons.

You may still use shall. It so brightly imperious.

1 comment:

Earl Kepler said...

So, I'm standing in the checkout line at Walmart. I've chosen the right line because it looked faster than the left one. Twenty minutes later I'm still in line and left is moving faster. What I say to myself is, " I should learn my lesson and never go to Walmart."
From now on I shall patronize Target where I will never wait more than a few minutes for service.
My life will not likely improve with this scenario, but I will have hope that I learned a valuable lesson.
Should is a positive expression of a future hope.