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Just and Should

I was reminded of this topic by Sheryl's simple tweet, “I should write more.” I replied that yes, she should, and so should I. The word “should” stood out and reminded me of an exchange that took place at Cornerstone Festival this summer.

I usually volunteer at the festival for transporation. It mostly involves driving staff, speakers, and artists between the festival and the hotels 20 minutes away. I get to meet interesting people this way, and I get to spend some time in lovely air conditioning. :] Jesus People USA (JPUSA) is the group that puts the festival together, so it's common for people to ask if I'm with them. One lady asked me that and I replied as I typically did, “No, I'm just a volunteer.” She replied, “Don't say 'just.'” I paused for a moment before asking why, and she explained that it unnecessarily diminishes. She pointed out that with the size of the festival, JPUSA would not be able to run it if not for volunteers. She went on to say that “just” and “should” are two words to avoid using. I wish I could remember her exact wording, because it was succinct and really made me think. I cannot remember what she said about “should,” since “just” stood out to me so much. I imagine it was about living in the present and not the future, though. That is what comes to mind when I think about it.

It is easy to get in the habit of saying certain things and not even thinking about the subtle implications of them. I had never thought about it like that before and I wanted to share before I forgot about it entirely.

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Editorial note: I realized after publishing that I wrote “. . . just wanted to share . . .” in the last sentence. See? It's easy to do.



There are other words like this that we talked about when I was doing BYB. One that they spent some time on was “try”. I mean, that sounds funny because, well, Yoda... “do or do not, there is no try”. But that really is true. The speaker gave an example with the marker he was using to write with. He came up and asked someone to “try” to take it from him. They really couldn't... they either took it or they didn't.

It's funny the power of language. We say a lot that we “should” do something or we are going to “try” to do it. I wonder if we really limit ourselves when we use words like this... maybe having the mindset of trying or that we should do something itself keeps us from doing it.

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