I’ve been using the word ‘should’ a lot lately.
“Life should look like this.”
“I should be better at that.”
“We should do more of this.”
This word ‘should’ dominates my vocabulary and my thoughts. I’m distracted from what is, comparing it to this illusive, unattainable version of what should be.
If you’ve seen me walking around recently, you’ve probably seen my shoulder breaking with the weight of my purse- packed full of no less than 6 books… just to go to the grocery store.
My life is stacked with books that are full of ‘shoulds’- books on productivity and creativity, books that tell you how to write and how to think. Books that tell you how to love the Lord better and books that show me how to love others. I’m knee deep in ‘shoulds’, learning in so many ways how to be a better, stronger, more loving, more creative version of myself.
And then there are a few books that are stuck in around the edges. They’re rumpled and stained, wavy with water and with overuse. But they keep my heart peaceful, reminding me to breathe in as a woman at rest.
There are a few books that remove the ‘shoulds’ for just a few blissful moments. They’re filled with words that remind me to look around- to notice not what should be, but what is.
“I live according to my faith when I love a meal that has been prepared carefully, when I notice texture and color and taste, when I let the flavor and scent of something fresh from the ground surprise me and bring me back to life. I demonstrate my theology when I dance all night with people I love, because this life is worth the best celebration we can offer up to it. I thank God every time I eat crusty bread and garlicky olives, and when I smell clean laundry and hear that little squeak of fingers on a guitar. For me, what God said when he made the world is a prayer: It is good. This world, it is good. The beauty of a perfect green apple is good. The first steps of a child are good. Watching my grandparents dance in their kitchen is good. It is good.”
~Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines
I was walking to the refrigerator, arms full of turkey and cheese and bright yellow mustard, cleaning up lunch so that I could get back to work when all of a sudden those cleansing words rang back in my mind.
My mind had swirling with people to call, relationships neglected, all of the things I wish I could cram into poor, little today, when that breath came- the breath that reminded me to look around.
I opened my eyes for the first time in awhile and looked around at my life, my sweet, pure, amazing life… doing its best and doing just fine.
Today is not a day for ‘shoulds’. Today is a day to breathe. Today is a day to be in this moment, for sweet time to write, and for sandwiches with rich yellow mustard. Today is a day for slow cups of coffee and feet on the table, for staying in sweats and letting my mind wander.
I get so caught up in ‘shoulds’ that I forget to notice what is.
And I’m thankful for the deep breaths and the books in my purse that remind me to breathe.