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I Don't Know

Updated: May 20

Every day (or almost every day), I wake up with a pit in my stomach. I’m anxious, often frustrated and sometimes even irritated at things even before I’ve given the day a chance.


Some of it (the anxiety) is part of me because I’m an anxious person … or at least high-strung and squirrely. If you know me, you’ve experienced it firsthand, and depending on the situation, it might entertain you, annoy you or piss you off.


If you’ve read my stuff, you’ve probably noticed my fidgety-ness (not a word) and evidence of my messy, hectic, crowded brain during some of my “stream of consciousness” moments. Again, it may entertain you, annoy you or frustrate you.


But this feeling I’ve been experiencing more recently (full disclosure, it’s been going on eight or years, maybe more) is different, and it’s not simply a product of the anxiety or busy mind I was born with or that I acquired as a kid (though that is a contributing factor).


This feeling has been brought on by the events, circumstances and societal trends that have been building in recent years; those things that have affected–and continue to affect–us all at different times and in different ways.


Without going into detail, it’s the stuff that makes me want to avoid watching the news or engaging people in conversation because I don’t want to know what happened overnight or this morning or yesterday.


Because I probably already know what happened: shootings, wars (both hot and cold), political strife, disease, climate events, personal and mass tragedies, hate (there’s so much hate) … all the “greatest hits” that have been playing on a loop in our world for years; too many years, and if I’m honest with myself, likely forever. It’s just that now it’s so apparent, so brazen, and always in our faces.


I can’t predict exactly what’s going to pop up next month, next week, tomorrow or even later today across the globe or in my backyard, but I know some (and maybe all) of these things I mentioned will.


It’s scary and concerning. And it doesn’t seem to be getting better.


So that’s what has me waking up anxious, wary and skittish. And what’s even scarier is that I’m getting used to feeling this way. It’s become part of my normal day. And I don’t know what to do about it; and I mean all of it.


I don’t know what to do about this feeling, this tightness that balls up just below my sternum. I don’t know how to make it go away because deep breathing and positive thoughts and affirmations don’t always do the trick.


But more than how I feel, I don’t know how to make all that other, external shit go away: the shootings, the tragedy, the hate, etc.


Ryan Bingham is a singer-songwriter who has a song titled, I Don’t Know. It’s about a relationship that’s on the rocks. It’s a good song with a solid melody and lyrics, but what really sticks with me is it’s title, those three words that he sings repeatedly throughout

song …


I … don’t … know.


Because for years now, every morning when I wake up I don’t know what to do about all those things that are happening in the world, most of which I can’t control. But what I do know is that I don’t want to feel this feeling anymore, and I don’t want us to continue to experience the things that cause it. I don’t want hate. I don’t want people always at loggerheads with one another. I don’t want more talking than listening. I don’t want conflict or extremism. And I don’t want people to suffer.


On a daily basis, I do my best to be friendly, to be kind, to smile at others and say “hello” when I pass them. I wave at school bus drivers when I’m on my morning walks. And I do my best to keep my own frustrations and issues away from public view (with varying levels of success) because I know everyone else has shit happening too, and the last thing they need is to hear me bitching about my own.


But man, this massive ball of yarn we’ve created, and I mean all of us, has become so huge that it seems impossible to untangle. And right now, that tangled ball is living inside of me, just below my sternum, and it might be inhabiting your body (or mind or soul) as well. So, what do we do?


The short answer is: I don’t know.


I can’t tell you what to do or think, nor would I ever try. And I also take my own share of blame and responsibility for all this stuff that’s happening because I’m human and I’m in it, and I believe I can always do something to make a little part of the world better.


So, I guess for today, and for the foreseeable future, I will just continue to do whatever I can do in my own little corner of the world. I’ll continue to be kind, to smile, to say hello to others, to wave at the bus drivers, and to listen more than I talk (something I’ve always found challenging, just ask my family and friends).


Because while I don’t know how to solve all this stuff–how to unravel this twisted ball of yarn we live on–I can control my own actions and behaviors.


But what frustrates me is that even if I do all of that, it still isn’t good enough. Because I have no answers, just questions, gripes and grievances. And I know you probably do too. Maybe they don’t come from the same places mine do. That’s fine. But if any of us is sitting back right now, thinking everything is fine and dandy and 100% the way we wanted it and planned it, we’re either stupid or lying to ourselves and to others.


The problem is, I don’t know what we can do about it. But I do know we MUST figure it out.


© 2024 David R. Haznaw

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