The Crossroads


Should is how other people want us to live our lives.

It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us. Sometimes, Shoulds are small, seemingly innocuous, and easily accommodated.

“You should listen to that song,” for example. At other times, Shoulds are highly influential systems of thought that pressure and, at their most destructive, coerce us to live our lives differently.

When we choose Should, we’re choosing to live our life for someone or something other than ourselves. The journey to Should can be smooth, the rewards can seem clear, and the options are often plentiful.


The Crossroads of Should and Must

The Crossroads of Should and Must

by Elle Luna

Must is different.

Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s that which calls to us most deeply. It’s our convictions, our passions, our deepest held urges and desires—unavoidable, undeniable, and inexplicable.

Unlike Should, Must doesn’t accept compromises.


Must is when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own—to cultivate our full potential. To choose Must is to say yes to hard work & constant effort, to say yes to a journey without a road map/ guarantees, and in so doing, to say yes to what Joseph Campbell called “the experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being & reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”


The snake is the ancient sacred symbol for transformation.

In order to grow, it must shed its skin. This process is painful, dangerous, and necessary for growth. The snake’s insides are literally outgrowing its outsides, & it must remove its restrictive, outermost layer.

If for some reason the snake cannot shed its skin, over time it will become malnourished, possibly even blind, and it will die from its inability to grow.


But when it successfully completes the process, the snake emerges stronger and healthier—a new incarnation.

This shape-shifting life cycle represents rebirth and renewal, the enigmatic power of life to thwart death. It is a metaphor for the experience that you, as an extraordinary human being capable of miraculous growth and transformation, have the opportunity to experience in your own life.


“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path,” Joseph Campbell said. “Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”


The tabula rasa is the blank page, a new roll of film, the pure canvas of white —unsullied, uncompromised. The term applies to more than just the objects of our creation; it is also a state of mind where nothing is scripted—a place where there is no map, no case study, and no right answer, & the only person who can decide what to do next is you.


The very notion of having a calling—that you must have one—can be a nonstarter. It feels overwhelming.


Oppressive, even.

Thinking that your Must will appear, fully formed, is like believing you can write a book by wishing and thinking. But doing one small thing, daily— pick up the pen, write a paragraph, make a list of words— that is how your Must will appear.


Nowhere is the essence of Must more purely exhibited than in childhood.

What were you like as a child? What did you enjoy doing? Were you solitary or did you prefer a crowd? Independent or collaborative?

Day optimizer or day dreamer?

If you don’t remember, call your mom, or someone who knew you well in your early childhood, and ask for stories about what you were like as a kid. Take notes on a piece of paper and hold on to them. These stories hold the earliest seeds of your Must.


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