The meaning of ‘should’

One of my favourite songs to listen to on my iPod is the spoken-word lyrics of “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen),” written by Baz Luhrmann.
The seven-minute sage narration has been around for more than a decade and yet remains timeless in its message about what’s important in life.
For me, the “Sunscreen Song” holds some of the best third-party advice I’ve ever laid ears on, and I should listen to it more often because there are many a day when I still need to be reminded of what matters most.
The “Sunscreen Song” is sort of a to-do list for me to check my life against, especially when I think things aren’t going the way they should.
If you are familiar with the words, then you’ll understand when I declare I am among the people over 40 years of age who really doesn’t know what they want to do with their life.
However, make no mistake. Not knowing doesn’t mean I’m unhappy. Where I am—or am not—in this great big world, and that things will continue to change, makes for great adventure.
I only get one shot at this particular shift on Earth and I’m keeping the door open to possibility until long after my hair is long and grey.
Of course, if I quit paying attention to what’s important, there’s a good chance my interesting life won’t get its chance at fulfillment, as was nearly the case one evening in late January.
With the deep freeze of winter mighty in the night air, there I was sitting mindlessly in an idling truck after pulling into the garage.
For far too long I was oblivious, with my eyes closed and a large smirk on my face, deep into an episode of Stuart McLean’s “The Vinyl Café” on the radio as the engine exhaust cowered in the outside air and backed up around the truck.
As the “Sunscreen Song” touts: “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you . . . on some idle Tuesday.”
Hmmm. I should thank my lucky stars.
Thank you.
Oh, yes, and I’m supposed to dance—even if it’s only in my living room. As the matter of fact, the last time I danced in my living room was in 1997, all over the new flooring Peter and I had spent hours putting in at the first home we rented together before we were married.
The last time I danced in public was in February at a Collective Soul concert in Thunder Bay, but not until my #3 daughter corrected me on protocol.
I don’t get out much and, consequently, the musical event was my first rock concert ever. Ever.
When it became apparent that no one was going to sit down after rising to a frenzy as the band came out on stage, Mrs. Know-It-All blew a gasket. “If I have to stand up for the whole concert, I’m leaving,” I scowled to my 17-year-old jiving beside me.
“It’s a rock concert, Mother, you’re supposed to stand up,” she replied with the flat stare she inherited from me.
Scream, shine, spit me out “wa huh, wa huh, wa huh.” All that I know is I should do that more often.
I also know that even though good eyesight isn’t on the to-do list of the “Sunscreen Song,” my husband should never go without glasses. The latest news flash in his neck of the woods is that he can’t tell the difference between me and a vulture.
We’d taken an exciting day trip to the local landfill site to dispose of old farm fodder and as Pete chucked, I snapped digital photos of gigantic eagles and other carnivorous fowl huddling on mounds of muck off in the distance.
After I had downloaded the photos to my computer at home and was checking out my cache for any hint of National Geographic quality, Pete stopped short behind my armchair, his eyes all squinted and wrinkly.
“Is that you sitting on a hill?” he muttered, unaware of the forces of evil about to descend upon him.
“That’s a turkey buzzard,” I said with a whole whack of attitude, clicking the mouse repeatedly on “zoom” until the old bird filled the screen.
Pete, ever the master of recovery, quipped back that if I wore Victoria Secret underwear more often, perhaps it would correct his vision.
I just squawked and pecked his eyes out.
The “Sunscreen Song” tells us to accept certain inalienable truths. Contrary to what I thought my intention was last November, when I decided to quit writing this column, clearly that decision was not part of the universal plan for me.
In a quirky sort of way, my writing sits right up there with credit card debt. There are some things that are impossible to run from or forget about.
And to those of you who conspired with the universe to remind me over the last six months or so that you missed me, and that I should write in this space again, thank you.
Here I am.

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