A shouldless day

I’ve long been intrigued by Ellen Burstyn’s habit of occasional “shouldless” days.

I have what I call should-less days. Today is a day where there’s nothing I should do. So I only do what I want to do. And if it’s nap in the afternoon or watch TV, and eat ice cream, I get to do it. I had that kind of day yesterday.

Ellen Burstyn

The shouldless day always seemed out of reach. My shoulds live on my daily to-do lists. I can’t remember the last day I existed without one.

But today I’m having a shouldless day. It’s going great. Much better than the other kind of “unproductive” day I’m familiar with: the wasted day. On a wasted day, I procrastinate, rebelling against the to-do list, and I’m neither enjoying myself nor making good use of my time.

Yesterday, when I decided that today would be shouldless, there was the fear that it would feel like a wasted day, with that semi-nauseous feeling, a mix of boredom and overstimulation and guilt. There was also the hope that it would be the opposite of a wasted day: I would be a woman of pure luxury, steeping myself in a scented bath and reading for hours.

Yet I’m finding (so far) that this day is neither wasted nor glamorous. I woke up rested, and with ideas lighting up my brain for a change. I did a load of laundry and some other domestic work. The Sunday crossword. A long hilly walk. Finished the Q documentary. Mario Kart. I’m writing this now. Later maybe reading, yoga, time with family.

A good day.

A little part of me is still piping up to ask: Am I doing it right? Am I doing it wrong?

Those questions are wrong, because today is shouldless, and however I do it is fine.

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