I am simultaneously trying to be less overwhelmed by the world & more*

—as I am when overwhelmed by the mountains
of laundry we do in a household of three,

though at the same time I love burying
my face in armloads of warm dry cotton fresh

from the dryer. Or as I take a step back
and gasp at the moon this week, for it’s larger

than my biggest serving plate and brighter
than LED light bulbs which in themselves

are a wonder, as they can last anywhere
from 20,000 to 50,000 hours. Moonlight

pouring through the blinds makes it hard
to fall asleep, but I can’t turn it off.

And I am overwhelmed to learn that it takes
about five years for a cancer cell to grow

to the size of a pea, but then almost no time
at all for the suddenness of its vicious turns.

One moment you’re wading near the shore,
then something materializes, shark gunning

in shallow water to bite off your leg or arm,
or the side closest to your spleen. I look

around again today, seriously overwhelmed
by the number of books we’ve acquired

through the years and how long it will take
to read through all of them. Why did we buy

three cheeses instead of one when we came back
from Belgium, and six thick slabs of chocolate?

Everything tastes so good especially when
it’s bad for you. Everything screams Pleasure first!

especially when it’s the wrong time for it.
How long it felt to be in a Chapter 13 bank-

ruptcy, and have our wages garnished. It was over-
whelming to jump at every shrill of the phone,

even after creditors had stopped calling.
Seven years never felt so long, but now,

in hindsight, did go faster than we thought.
We were nothing short of dumbstruck that soon

after, we could even qualify for a housing
loan! Life is still crazy, though it seems

to go at a more or less sedate pace these days.
But from my bedroom window, when I see two women

walk briskly past at the same time each morning
in almost identical wear, I feel sorry for the track

shoes I haven’t laced in months, sitting by
the door. Then I think, what use is this kind

of worry when there are so many more dire things
going on in the world? I think about the thousands

of children still separated from their parents,
and about an orca in mourning, who’s been spotted

carrying her dead calf for three days off the coast
of Victoria, British Columbia. I want to dissolve

in tears at least once a day. My friend Leslie
asked if I’d heard of this chart that could show

how to manage worry. Though I don’t remember exactly
what went where, she explained that in one box

you’re supposed to put the things you can’t
worry about anymore because there’s nothing you

or anyone can do at all. Into another go the things
you can worry about because there are

some known solutions. In the last one I think
you’re supposed to put the things that you can let

overwhelm you, but only for a limited time
instead of all day, or 24/7. So you might say

I’ll let myself cry for an hour, then dry my tears
and go to work. Or I’ll let myself cry and crawl

back under the covers, but must get up before noon
to feed myself and the cat. There’s always something

coming out of the ground: weeds, slugs, worms,
scraps for the birds to peck at. Coming home one

evening, my child stopped, saying Look under
the trees!
I thought it was a rat or raccoon. But all

it was, was the first slow winks pulsing from firefly bodies
in the oxygen-rich dark, under the miniature Japanese maples.

~ *with a line taken from a Tweet from Chen Chen @chenchenwrites


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.