I could. But I can’t.
I suspect Tubbs is referring to this, and it is frustrating.
But pedantry aside. I’ll talk about caring.
You’d think it would be nice and simple and straightforward. That caring would be a good thing to do. It’s important to have people you care about and to always show careful consideration to others. Saying ‘I don’t care’ is tantamount to removing yourself from something, disengaging and often being a little bit rude.
But sometimes you need to.
Plus there’s another care that’s often frowned upon, even though its part of the basis for the way our society works.
So first off. How much should I care about the people I care about? I mean, lots, right? Then why do I often get told that I need to let other people’s worries go?
It’s a recurring theme in conversations with my mother that I need to stop worrying about other people’s problems. Try and help and support people, but if it’s not working, don’t let the things outside your control bring you down.
This is because me and my mother share a tendency to worry. I found myself bouncing the advice back at her for the first time recently. It was an odd moment. A sudden symmetry that made a lot of things make sense on a number of levels.
But I do care. I care about my mother and my friends, and quite often people I don’t even know.
But then, I don’t seem to care enough about people more distant. So maybe the problem is more about equality of the distribution of care. Should I care less about those close by so I’ve got room to care for people on the other side of the world in much worse situations. I don’t know if abstract care weighs up very easily with immediate care.
And perhaps I don’t care about the difference enough. I don’t seem to care enough to make a difference though. I think I’m very much stuck in my routines of care.
And the other type of care is perhaps more pernicious.
I shouldn’t care what other people think of me. But I do. I worry and fret over my appearance and eccentricity. Scared to go to certain places and reacting badly in certain situations.
The interesting thing is that a large part of it is illusory. Once I know what someone thinks, I can either brush it off or deal with it. It’s that floating concept of ‘what other people think’, an imaginary abstract lump of assumption, projected into the ether surrounding people and places I know nothing about.
A heckle on the street is (sometimes) easy to disregard. But that feeling of people eyeing you up and judging, is terrifying and powerful. Even as it may be a fiction.
So I care most about the things I’m paranoid about.
It’s guesswork and fear and no little bit of prejudice.
I definitely should care less.
But it’s not that simple.
Illustration by Anna-Kaisa.