Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things you are supposed to do

I have never been particularly good at doing things I'm supposed to do because you are supposed to do them. It is not that I am philosophically opposed to doing things I am supposed to do. I just don't always know that I am supposed to do things that I am supposed to do. I also do not always understand the origins of some things that I am supposed to do and why.

Oh, I understand and accept common courtesies such as writing thank you notes and acting like you want some gift when someone gives you something you don't want or really like. It is other things I don't understand. For example, years ago my first girlfriend's mother used to wrap boxes of chocolates and keep them under the tree without a name tag in case someone dropped by unexpectedly and gave them a gift. She would then slip away, write their name on a gift tag and covertly stick it on one of the unmarked gifts under the tree as if she was going to give them a gift in the first place regardless of whether they gave her one. When I questioned the sincerity of such a gesture I was told it was what you were supposed to do.

Personally, I would rather give a person a gift with no expectations of anything in return. And I'd rather get an unexpected gift without feeling obligated to reciprocate. But this view, although paid lip service by many, is usually superseded by the unwritten rules of "things you are supposed to do."

I wonder if there is someplace where all of these things you are supposed to do are written down. That would have to assume that there are universal things you are supposed to do rather than things that you are supposed to do that were cited by your parents simply because their parents beat it into their heads that they were things you were supposed to do. And they believed this because their parents in turn impressed upon them that they were things you were supposed to do.

I am willing to bet most things you are supposed to do evolve that way instead out of some universal law dictated by the natural order of things. Most people don't question things we are supposed to do because questioning them is something we are not supposed to do.  Besides, the only answer you ever get when you question doing something you are supposed to do is that that is what people do. There is a paradox here somewhere.

I am greatly pleased that wearing live cats as hats is not one of those things you are supposed to do.

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