The “Shoulds” of Life Have Me Down
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Gary L. Clark is an author. After a thirty year career he retired to write a novel. He then joined a counselor-in-training program at the local community mental health center and worked three years as a substance abuse counselor. He retired again and has written two more novels. He recently completed the annotation of a self-help book on faith-based self-help. Two published novels (available on address social justice. Mr. Clark is the Editor of He lives in St. Joseph, Missouri.

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The “Shoulds” of Life Have Me Down

I have been a responsible man for most of my life.  Some would challenge that point – because my failures have stood out like atomic bombs.  As a Senior Citizen I don’t face too many life changing events or decisions.  But I do have some responsibilities and those become the burrs under my saddle – informing me of what I “should” be doing.

Today is a great example.  I enrolled in an art class at the local university last January.  I love it.  I can work in the studio at the university any time I want – I have a building pass that lets me stay as late as midnight – and all day Saturday and Sunday.  My mind races with new ideas.  The projects in my mind come much faster than I can keep up with.  I would bee there every day if I could.  And why can’t I?  Because there are other things I “should” be doing.

I have lived in my present home for eleven years.  Last fall I tackled the job of painting the interior.  It seemed like a good winter project. The entire second floor was completed before Christmas.  I am talking walls, ceilings, woodwork, window trim… everything.  This type of work is not extraordinary – it falls under the category of routine maintenance.  I started on the first floor after Christmas.  The dining room and three hallways are done.  I started on what most would call the living room (in my house it is my man cave).  That was just before school started.  The semester ends in early May and I will be locked out of the studio for the summer. ….

…. Spring came early in Missouri.  My home is located in an old neighborhood with lots of trees.  Many of the redbuds are mine – they easily mature in ten years.  I have big shade gardens – lots of hostas.  My grass is growing.  I am trying to say that my yard is in desperate need of attention.

It is Sunday and I want to go to the studio.  But I SHOULD be painting.  I SHOULD be out raking leaves and mowing.  So I sit here, writing this post, being responsible by not going to the studio but rebelling against those chores that prevent me from doing what I WANT.

There is a child somewhere in my genetic code that throws tantrums when faced with choices between pleasure and responsibility.  That child is in control at the moment.

The adult was winning for a while.  Some of the trim around my windows was completed today.  But house painting is a real bore – especially compared to the art studio.  Not giving up on being responsible I went out to the garage where I found my gas can empty.  I was ready to fill up the mower and get to work – but the deviation from the plan (no gas) derailed me.

What to do?  What to do?  Maybe I’ll take my dog for a walk.

P.S. When I began this post I had the word “maturity” in mind.  I was to work it in somewhere.  Somehow the word was to reflect on me – but it only describes a redbud tree.  Oh well..

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