Gotta, Oughta, Wanna

These 4:00 a.m. cogitations are too frequent.

I lay awake worrying about things. All things. All the things on my to-do list, the ones I’ve been ignoring for some time, the ones that give me anxiety, the ones I wish I could pass off to a personal assistant.

I worry about money, if I’ll get enough sleep, quality sleep, if I’ll be tired all day at work tomorrow, if my tiredness will affect my patience levels in dealing with my fellow humans. Will I ever get out of this rut? Will I finally form good habits? Is a rut just bad habits? How much effort really goes into dropping or creating habits? Am I willing to make it? Will I ever accomplish my longterm goals? Short term? Do I even still care about those? What were they?

Though everything changes, so much stays the same.

What I worry about most is the future of the children in my family. How will the world change before they’re middle-aged? Will it be recognizable to my aged eyes? Will we be at war overseas? Civil war? Will our two main political parties have finally snapped? Will regular citizens be anxiously engaged in destroying those with differing opinions? Who will win that battle? Will the children be involved? Will they be safe? Are they safe now? Will anything bad happen to them this week? Will they make it to adulthood? Will they be successful? Happy? Hopeful? Will they turn out like me? How much do I not want that to happen? Is life as bad as it seems right now, with shadows creating monsters on all the walls?

I know in the morning, things will feel lighter.

It’s just waiting for morning to come.

My mom told me when I was a kid that if I put the scriptures under my pillow, my thoughts and dreams would be protected. There’s still a fragment of that sentiment swept into a neglected corner of my mind. I don’t think about it often, but I haven’t thrown it out. I remember that 1 John 4 says God is Love.

I choose to believe that’s true.

It’s easy to question God’s existence with how much ugliness there is in this world. Ugliness that’s magnified by night. Could the holocaust be repeated? Have we learned what we need to make sure it isn’t? If not God’s existence, it’s easy to question His intentions, His feelings toward us, and His ultimate goal. Does He exist to inflict pain? Does He care what happens to us? Does He have a plan for each of us like we’ve heard? Why are we here? What are we doing with the precious little time we’ve been given? Life is a gift no matter its source, right?

The last few chapters of my life would be the first to go were I editing myself for publication.

Does God create suffering? Or is suffering a consistent element of mortality? Maybe even a soothing constant? Is our presence among ever-recycling materials simply uncomfortable? Especially if we are, in fact, God’s children? How bad is death if it leads to life? Does it? Where are my nephews and grandparents that have passed? What about the father of my niece and nephew? What about my cousins? My step-uncle? My great aunt? What about babies who are miscarried?

Surely they’re the closest angels… I can’t reconcile it any other way.

What about pets?

How my heart hurts when I think about my pets. Will I be judged for not taking better care of them? Especially the rat I’m pretty sure starved while I daydreamed the weeks away… And what about the little dwarf hamster? Did she die from thirst because I wanted her to drink from a bowl rather than a hanging bottle? Did she die from the cold? She was near the window. Why didn’t I just buy the bottle? But she did drink from the bowl. I saw.

What about the guinea pigs that died together the same night? Was it that new bedding? I thought Rodrigo and Shark Tank were healthy and happy. They definitely seemed fine. And Sheldon, my second Russian tortoise. If I’d taken him to the vet sooner after bringing him home, maybe he’d have been saved from the parasites. Why don’t pet shops take better care of their animals? Am I looking for someone to blame?

When was the last time I flew a kite? That used to calm me. Would my husband go if I asked him? We don’t have time for kite flying.

I don’t know what I’ll do when my current pets go. However will I live without them?

What about the flower near the back porch that bloomed for only a day? Was that two years ago already? I cried when I saw it had died. My husband didn’t understand.

I think it’s men who don’t understand. They’re so different from us.

Women are all so different from each other.

Does anyone see things the way I do? Anyone who comprehends life as I do? Am I capable of strapping on another person’s shoes?

“Jesus understands,” Mom would say.

I think of the painting of Jesus in the living room. The one with the lamb draped over His shoulders. Tonight, I need to know I’m that lamb.

A few days ago, my grandma told me she has 3 to-do lists: the “Got To”, the “Ought To”, and the “Want To”. This dented my soul. What are my Gotta, Oughta, and Wanna lists? Are there even still things I want to do? Or do I just want sleep? Once rested I’ll want to do things again… I will, right?

Definitely on my Gotta list is “stay on top of tasks at work”. I’m mostly caught up. I just have to make sure I don’t slip. These days I take an absurd amount of time finding my footing after a slip. Also on that list is preparing for my trip to Taiwan next week to see my sister and her family. She just had her third baby. I can’t wait to hold my nephews!

My Oughta list is the longest. It’s all the things I really should be doing but that don’t get prioritized because my survival doesn’t depend on them. Things like: do laundry, clean the house, bathe the dogs, exercise, plan meals, examine the pile of conversations needing to be had with my husband, text everyone back, organize the filing cabinet, deal with the raccoons that ravage the outside garbage bins every night… There are too many things.

My brain just overloaded and shut down.

My Wanna list is either longer than the universe, or blank, and can change every second. It depends on my mood, my energy, my humor, and I’m sure some other things I’m too tired to mention.

I know I want to finish all my manuscripts. I know I want to see Japan with my husband–his dream. And Jerusalem. I know I want to go back to Brazil. I don’t know how long I want to stay there.

I know I want to make music with my family again–mostly my sisters.

I know I want to find success. I just don’t know what that means for me yet.

More than anything, I want sleep.

I’m going to publish this post and find a way to enter the dream world. But first, I’ll encourage you to make your Gotta, Oughta, Wanna lists; hopefully yours are more consistent than mine.

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