September 23


The Book of Supposed To

There’s a book that nearly all children are read
And nearly all adults abide by,
Yet no one has ever seen it and nobody calls it by name. 

It tells us how things ought to be,
Says what’s right and wrong,
And governs our lives in so many ways.

We use it as a way to justify our pain
And quote from it often 
When things don’t go our way. 

This book is called “The Book of Supposed To”
And here are a few popular lines:

Kids aren’t supposed to die. 
Everything’s supposed to turn out ok. 
Dying is supposed to happen the way that I want it to. 
I’m supposed to get to vote on anything that concerns me. 
This isn’t supposed to hurt. 
This relationship wasn’t supposed to end this way. 
People aren’t supposed to die young. 
I’m not supposed to feel the way I do. 
I’m not supposed to get sick. 
Things were never supposed to go this way. 

And when things don’t follow according to the Book (as they almost never do),
We inevitably feel jaded, confused, and often depressed. 

We cannot comprehend life being any other way
Than how the Book said it was supposed to be. 
Still, nobody ever stops to wonder…
Who wrote The Book of Supposed To?
And why do we revere it so much?

It seems there are two primary authors: 
Certainty and Control
Both make us feel safe when we face the unknown. 

We want our lives wrapped in a pretty bento box. 
We want to know the answer before the question is even asked. 

“God grant me…” 
We plead and plead. 
“Please let this miracle happen the way I want,
And when I’m ‘ready‘ things can go back to ‘normal’.”

We try and try to domesticate the wild, 
But life is far too feral to be tamed. 
It escapes our controlling grasp every time. 

Wonder and ambivalence are muscles we’ve long atrophied
As we cling for dear life to the Book we hope is supposed to write our lives. 

Deep down we know that we don’t want control. 
Life wouldn’t be worth living without Mystery and Unknown—
The contrast of deep pain and sorrow with gratitude and joy. 
What if the miracle we’ve been looking for is exactly the way things are?

About the author

I advocate for the mutual nourishment of the personal and collective human spirit and all beings of the Earth by the open sharing of beauty, gratitude, and sorrow and the regular practice of grief in conversations, gatherings, writings, poetry, ceremony, and song.

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  1. In the field of psychology “certainty (or predictability, rds) and control” have long been labeled “cognitive control”, knowing what is going to happen.

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