on today’s menu: existential stew


i don’t know why people turn away from the nancys of the world.
i don’t know why i find them so much more desirable to be with than hoards of “normal” people i know.

i don’t know why some folks steal other folks’ thunder.
i don’t know why that makes me so damn furious.

i don’t know which colors are analogous and complementary.
(oh, i know where to look it up,
i just don’t know why i can’t remember that.)
(or why i think i should.)

i don’t know what makes for a good hug
(i just know when i get one.)

i don’t know where to add on to our house.
i don’t know why i can’t seem to live a fine life with only what will fit into a backpack.

i don’t know how some people can be so absolutely sure about things.
i don’t know why i question everything and attach qualifiers like “the way i see it . . .” or “in my experience . . . “.
(okay, i lied. i know why the qualifiers: they’re tacked on because i know as well as you do that i don’t know everything.)

i don’t know how to tailor clothes.
(and i’m fine with that.)

i don’t know why plaids and polka dots look just fine on some people
and so atrocious on others.

i don’t know why people feel an intense need to convert others.
and i especially don’t know why they act on it.

i don’t know why i can’t tell you in one short, snappy phrase what i’m about.
some folks have themes,
i have a theme park.

i don’t know which is bigger: a universe or a galaxy.

i don’t know when “earn” became a 4-letter word.

i don’t know how to tell what are load-bearing walls.

i don’t know why or how some people stay.

i don’t know how people can have deep, unwavering religious faith.

i don’t know what the magic ingredient is that has some victims moving on with their lives in the spirit of self-determination while others get all comfy in the victim hood.

i don’t know why people abuse power,
manipulate others,
lie, steal, and cheat.

i don’t know why you don’t just push up your sleeves and set about changing things if you’re not happy with your life.

i don’t know why we don’t value and practice independent thinking any more than we do,
why we don’t ask more questions,
why we roll eyes and attack people who do.
(okay, at the risk of being called a conspiracy theorist, i think i do have a theory here: people who think for themselves are hard to control. we’ll talk more about that later.)

i don’t know why knowing is more valued than not knowing.


  1. Mark

    An excellent gumbo of notions and ideas and questions to ponder. Even if we think we know the answers.

    By the by, the first step on the path to wisdom is admitting that you don’t know. So, keep on truckin’, Lady.

    • whollyjeanne

      questions – i’ve got a million of ’em. they just rattle around. constantly. sigh.

      • Mark

        Please, don’t say that like it is a “bad thing” to have questions. It’s when you stop asking questions, stop searching, stop moving forward, that you stagnate and die. I’ve seen it happen in young people and they spend the remainder of their days dead, but not buried; just shuffling along. It’s sad, really.

        • whollyjeanne

          i know what you mean. the thing is, i am surrounded by people who are so sure, who are out there teaching other people things. i’m a teacher by training and by nature, and yet now if you ask me what i could teach, you’d get a blank stare (possibly with a mouth hanging open) in response. i grew up in a world where knowing The Answer meant smart, and sometimes i fall back into that way of thinking . . . even though i know that doubt and questions are where the fruit is. am i making any sense? i have a master’s degree, and yet what i know right now is that i graduated from high school 4th in my class, graduated from college magna cum laude, and fortunately went to a hippie graduate school where grades weren’t worth spit. all those letters after my name mean i know how to tell people what they want to hear. i know how to conjure up The Right Answer. and mostly i know that there’s no such thing. but it still makes me feel less than sometimes.

          • Mark

            Being certain about things that are difficult to prove doesn’t make you “right” anymore than going to McDonald’s a lot makes you a hamburger.

            Have you considered the idea that those who have all the answers have stopped thinking critically? Or at all? That they are the ones who are “less” instead of you, who keeps searching, thinking, pondering, realizing that not only do you not know all the answers, you’re not even sure what all the questions are? From where I sit, you’re in the superior position.

  2. wordsmithtom

    Jeanne, you ARE a theme park…..

    • whollyjeanne

      And now we hear from one who knows me live and in person!

  3. Joyce Beverly

    I don’t know how to tell which walls are load-bearing either but I can usually tell which people are holding up everything.

  4. KjM

    “i don’t know which is bigger: a universe or a galaxy.”

    A heart.

    I don’t know oh so many things, but that’s one I do. And, when I forget, all I have to do is come here to remember.

    As for the rest: keep asking the questions. It’s the way to keep growing.

    • whollyjeanne

      Your wisdom dropped in at precisely The Right Time. Thank you.

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