The feeling I have most consistently could be described as insecure uncertainty.
It creates its own disposition. Generally speaking, I’m grateful and I try my best to be kind; however, I continually feel a suspicion of everything (myself most of all), one that isn’t necessarily rooted in a distrust of someone or of people, but a distrust of evolving circumstance. The conditions of our social environment necessitate an awareness that is rooted in self-interest and varying degrees of ambition, such that the latter is inseparable from the former. It creates a mental and emotional space that is vulnerable to various possibilities that, at any moment, could force a change in direction – a change we initiate ourselves, a change that someone else initiates, etc. This dynamic is ultimately underscored by a lack of control.
As a critical point, and as unwise as it may be, I reject the encouragements that suggest one shouldn’t waste time worrying over things we can’t control. Regardless the roots of this wisdom, be it Christianity, Buddhism, Jess from Gilmore Girls, it misses a fundamental point — it is the very fact we don’t have control that is the source of insecure uncertainty. It’s not about a particular bad thing happening, it’s about something, anything at all happening, that could fundamentally alter how I live and how I engage in the world. I simply don’t understand how one could not be impacted by this apparent reality – more so, I don’t understand how one could be vitalized by this apparent reality, i.e. the excitement of the unknown. Filling out the spaces that surround and inform these ephemeral commercials of happiness is a larger palette of indescribable, and inexplicable, melancholy and pain. Maybe it’s not acute pain, maybe it’s not physical pain, maybe one is even lucky enough to avoid a direct collision with injustice (be it divine, social, or economic) – even still, I am of the position that positive emotions only gain their meaning against the fabric of an otherwise indifferent (not evil, not painful, not metaphysical) existential matrix.
This is my lens. And while I am concerned over it, it’s also a source of comfort – not as a vice, but as a mechanism that doesn’t let me get too far ahead of myself.
Put simply, it’s Kierkegaardian anxiety.
This is the map of my brain, the brain that was forced to consider a question put to me and my friend Jacob one night in Atlanta while I was on tour with Mae in November – “Why do you still do this?” That is, why do I still tour after 18 years?
That question seems easy enough, and it seems straightforward enough – but I still haven’t given the friend who asked, or myself, a satisfactory answer.