Black and white pain chart

You’ve joined friends for brunch. Your food arrives. You ask for jam on the side. You reach for your phone. You wish you’d ordered pancakes. You check your phone in hopes that you’ll get a long awaited reply. You wish you didn’t care. You celebrate yourself for having cared at all. You turn on your notifications. Your phone reminds you that those weren’t fireworks…those were gunshots. Your phone reminds you that not too far away someone has died. Your phone reminds you that we aren’t yet free. That it could have been you. You’re reminded that we’re running out of places to hide.

I worry about the glitches that disrupt business as usual. If only she or he or ze hadn’t done x, y, or z. How do we fill our subconscious with questions deeper and more pedantic half thoughts, like: did i leave the oven on? Am i getting my period? Or, do i have anything in my teeth?

When does the guilt end? Anxiety is founded here. It sits in the back corner of your favorite coffee shop. It orders a 3$ taco in a neighborhood where tacos have always cost 50 cents. It calls the cops on the ‘sketchy’ people on the corner. It hurls a 40 of bleach at a couple kissing goodnight. It watches a cop as they part the legs of a suspect during a “random” search. It avoids eye contact.

In the 1969 documentary nina: an historical perspective, a male voice, presumably that of the director, asks nina simone: what’s free to you? He goes on, ‘cause like, i’ve been talk to you for such a long –” before he finishes simone quickly replies, “it’s just a feeling”, she repeats, “it’s just a feeling. It’s like how do you tell somebody how it feels to be in love.” in this moment her posture is remarkably different than in moments before. Her eyes dart around, and she arranges and rearranges her dress before exclaiming, “i’ll tell you what freedom means to me…” she turns and continues: “no fear….” she stares into the distance and says “it is something to really feel.”

Anxiety is the opposite of freedom. Anxiety is like wading in fear. We’re all buoyed by what we have and what we’re willing to do to keep it. And there’s a fine line between inner peace and ignorance.