The dictatorship of the must

Every day I get up thinking “What must I do today?” Until recently I never thought about it. It seemed like a good start to the day. Take a look at my agenda. Just pull myself out of my dream world to the here and now. Because my daily activities, all those little things and big appointments that I have to do every day, that is my reality. Right?
I never get up with the thought “What do I want to do today?” I have been thinking about it lately. Because the dictatorship of the must has overtaken and defeated me. Ironically, I have to think about everything I thought I had to do. Everything I always thought was normal.
Every morning I have to get up. I have to find clothes that suit the day’s activities. Neutral, classic, gray-blue for workdays. Slightly looser at the weekend. I have to brush my teeth. Imagine a colleague in a meeting getting the scent of rotting food scraps and rising gastric acid drifting from my mouth.
I have to have breakfast, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have to be at work for at least eight hours a day. Once there, I am expected to be enthusiastic and do my utmost to improve myself, so that my unbridled ambition can be rewarded with a position for which I am not suitable, so that I have to work even harder to prove that my colleagues are even less suitable for the position that I never really wanted. Ambition. Stagnation means decline. Whoever does not advance, will die.
When I get home, my hungry offspring expects me to prepare good food for them. Although in their eyes tasty and healthy relate to purple and Nebraska (in other words, they have nothing to do with each other and should not be used in the same sense), I commit myself to incorporate as much (fresh) vegetables into my dishes as possible and sufficient variety. When the children flee quickly behind their electronics after the meal, I have to clean up, do the dishes and in the meantime quickly put a washing machine on or start ironing the top of the laundry pile. Of course I don’t forget to spend quality time with the family while keeping in mind that the family should no absorb me completely either. In the end, I am also an individual. I have to reserve time for myself. It is extremely important that I develop myself, that I am unique and special. But within lines. You must be a bit of a geek, but you cannot become a weirdo.
It sounds ironic and exaggerated. However, the reality is much worse.
Just try to keep track of every activity you perform for 24 hours.  And with every activity ask yourself if you do it because you want it or because you have to. Or because you think you must do it.
If you check your facebook, don’t you have anything better to do? Or must you do this out of fear that you might miss something. Do you have Facebook at all because you want to tell something, or because you have to stay informed during these times? How many of your facebook friends are really friends? How much did you just click because you thought you had to? Do you watch TV series because you find them interesting, or because your environment says you must like them?
Does this not apply to so much in your life? That you do them to belong? Because society thinks you should? Your clothing, your choice of music, your school, your religion (or anti-religion), your political preference, your behavior. Anyone who opposes the dictatorship of the must seeks his / her salvation in alternative ways of life, without noticing that that way of life imposes other rules on him / her that you must follow. Hipsters, gothics, newage meditators, pub philosophers, artists, writers, neo-Nazis or maghreb youth. They all form their own community again with their own set of rules that they must follow. That’s how humanity works. We all have a subconscious desire to belong. This is only possible by following the rules of that community. By “having to”.  We Must.
And we, who thought we were the most free generation of all time. We, who thought that all choices are open to us. We do not notice that society has more hold on us than ever. We are more afraid not to belong than ever. The social safety net that family and clubs, village life and true friends used to form has been diluted into a global online community of individuals who are far too busy taking care of themselves. The worst thing is that we don’t even realize it, that we are convinced that we can’t do anything about it. For the elderly among us it has grown slowly until we were suddenly in the middle of it. The young people have never even known otherwise. Progress. It is a matter of must.
I also cannot escape it. Especially me. I am too weak to bear the weight of the world. I also have no solution. I am not a philosopher or politician. I have not yet seen the light in sacred books or statements from very wise Eastern gurus or educated Western sociologists. I have a mortgage. I have three children who want to study. I have one hundred and sixteen facebook friends. But none of them will come to my aid if I decide to drastically change my life. So I limit myself to silent resistance.
Tomorrow I get up (or not) with the thought “What do I want to do today?” Fortunately, tomorrow is Sunday. And the children are not at home. And there is only a little pile of dirty laundry….

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