What are we supposed to do?

Every action we take is because we want to, we have to, or we’re supposed to. Inevitably there are things in life one does because they have to or are supposed to, like getting a job and paying rent. But beyond that, I find myself wondering where the line is between what we want to do and are supposed to do. Perhaps the simplest scenario is spirituality. I’ve made reference before on here that as a spiritual person my understanding is to be always thinking of God and gratitude, not because one is supposed to but because the rewards are self-evident. I believe this, but of course there are times when I find myself focusing my thoughts somewhere because I am supposed to. I don’t think mindless praise is what any deity had in mind, yet sometimes that comes with the territory.

This idea extends to all activities that aren’t mandatory for survival, and even the specifics of that are debatable. We all have to make our way in the world, but is there a way we are supposed to do it? Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, only authority figures imposing their own experiences on us. Millennials were raised with the understanding we are supposed to go to college and get white collar jobs, ideally a lawyer or something that makes a lot of money. Now in my 30s, I have witnessed people I know go on all kinds of life trajectories, from medical doctor to pizza chef. There is no real consistency I’ve found with these choices and happiness or a sense of having made the right choices. One of the happiest people I know cuts hair and knows she is living her calling, while others got pharmacy or law degrees and found themselves disillusioned with the options on the other side.

I love playing music (obviously), and this along with recording albums are some of the only things in my life I ever knew I was supposed to do. It’s provided me so much joy and I’m very thankful I was given the talent and opportunity to learn instruments. I do enjoy every moment with a guitar or piano or digital compositions, but I also always have a driving sense that I’m supposed to be working on music for some type of long-term goal. For my early 20s it was the drive to create, record and get better because otherwise I wouldn’t have a successful music career down the road. Now it’s down the road and I don’t have a successful music career. Yet I still feel like I am supposed to play music, and don’t have feelings of regret about all the nights I chose to stay in and work on music instead of going out and socializing. So in this sense, it’s what I wanted to do. I was supposed to do it because it’s what I wanted to do. Like spirituality, I don’t always feel the benefit in the moment but know that it’s contributing to something deeper. This applies to many things, whether exercise or sleep habits or any skill/hobby we find fulfilling. It’s something we do because we are supposed to, but more importantly want to.

On that note now that I’ve written this article I was supposed to, I want to go pick up a guitar.

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