Thinking About Things We Shouldn’t

When I first saw the film Chocolat back in 2000, I thought it was heavy handed and dumb. Nevertheless, a few nights ago, I was bored and it was free on Amazon Prime; I thought maybe it was worth a second shot—nope, it’s still bad. But the thing about bad movies is that they occasionally offer some redeeming feature (that probably goes double for Sharknado). Anyway, when Juliette Binoche is smearing Mayan chocolate all over the counter and doling out bits of wisdom to her repressed, small town customers, she mysteriously smiles and tells one, “Don’t worry so much about ‘not supposed to.’”


This one line caught my attention. Huh. 

And then I turned the movie off.


The thing is, I worry about “not supposed to” all the time. I’m continually fretting about, well, about a lot of stuff—most of it pretty pointless, but this fretting about doing what’s approved of and “acceptable” drives a lot of my choices. It’s as though I’m worried that at any point, I’ll be cast in a remake of Defending Your Life and want to be certain I’m not put in the penalty box! What kind of an existence is that? As regular DR readers know, the most obvious, ongoing struggle for me is finding a job that matches my training and experience when, the truth is, I don’t want to do that stuff anymore. I’ve written about this previously and I’m pretty much at the point of accepting a fate of answering phones for the rest of my life, yet that isn’t what I want to do, either. What I want to do is write this blog and things like it—for money. But my fantasy life extends way beyond socially acceptable matters of finding a fulfilling, non-traditional job into arenas where my thoughts are limited to me, myself, and I. And, I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in this regard. You do it, too.


From social, familial, or career expectations to food and sex, the parameters by which we are expected to conduct ourselves are communicated early on for us all. Most of the time, we are happy to comply, genially agreeing to the models set out before us. We do what they did or what they told us we should do. But, temptation comes in as many varieties as we can dream up and many of them include elements which deviate from such norms. There’s a lot we’re “not supposed to think about” or want.


What confection tempts you? What is your secret?


Suppressing our thoughts is a fruitless endeavor because our desires have a funny way of popping back into our heads, unbidden. They drive us to imagine all the things we’d rather be doing than what awaits us on the other side of that door. Finding succor in our private longings is normal and widespread, but simultaneously reveals a whole lot about our life satisfaction levels. We can’t help it. Actually, I believe secrets can be a good thing. Not all secrets, of course, but maintaining this element of mystery of who we are is another dimension of the human experience.


Keeping our cards close to our chest serves a constructive purpose (ignoring the proclivities of social media to indiscriminately reveal everything about ourselves). My point is that it’s ok to revel in our private thoughts, as naughty or politically incorrect as they may be—heck, you may even be sympathetic to the wrong political party–because, we’re not ever going to be able to stop our thoughts from coming. We think what we think. We want what we want. No matter how much it might upset those around us. The trick, of course, is how or if we follow up on those forbidden fruits and what keeps us from doing so.


In terms of long term desires, what keeps you from pursuing them? Why do you hold back? Is it out of fear? Out of a sense of pride or responsibility to maintain the status quo? Because, aside from a few morally and socially reprehensible acts, most of what we want isn’t so impossible to achieve. When we spend all our time thinking about what we can’t do, telling ourselves we should not be thinking these things (whatever they are), we never arrive at a place where we can. Do you intend to live your life always telling yourself no? No, no, no? No to everything you want—meaning, what you want now–regardless of previous choices you made or what you wanted (and probably got)…back then?


So, whether it’s indulging in chocolate during Lent or fixations of another sort entirely, I believe that thinking our secret thoughts can provide both a relief to a longing that’s already there and may, just possibly, open the doors to new strategies for living the life we want, for living it in the open. There’s no harm in at least thinking about it…


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