“why do you care?”

you can read that question a few ways, depending on what word you emphasize. try it. repeat that sentence four times, each time putting your gusto behind an individual word. when you put the emphasis on the “why” I think it should have a question mark behind it like “why? do you care?” actually sounds kind of nice, doesn’t it? i have to say, the way i read that question, initially, without giving it thought, is harsh – the emphasis on the “you” reading of the question. last night before bed i slowed it down as much as i could and tried to say each word the same way, i said it over and over to myself, until I fell asleep and dreamed about playing guitar with kimya dawson and then, in a different dream, i was a vampire, which is weird because i don’t read vampire books or watch the shows, but i did identify the guy after me as the square-jawed guy from the “twilight” movies, i found that out watching the video music awards years back, sad right? i hid above stairs and was almost outed by another vampire – i woke up.

asking “what do you care about?” is nice, but too easy. not easy to care, but I think, depending on the day, answers could range from the color of my car to the health of my family. this morning, i cared about coffee getting in my cup – fast.

we hear people say “you’re a caring person”, ” oh, I care so much about kids in Uganda.” (I mean every time I’m at the grocery store it comes up at least once), or a myriad of ways to say that “blank” is something that is important to me. but why? ask yourself and please reply. what do you care about? more importantly, why?

the greater question for me is the big question. why do I care? why do I care about what goes on in the world. why care? not “what is important to me?”, but why do i put my energy into this whole human race thing? what drives me? why do others seem to not care?

this is tough for me to explain, but the hardest question that our students asked was “why should I care” or simply put “who cares”. this was usually in regards to the subject matter being taught, but overall there was a sense of hopelessness about everything. why care at all? like, why live? now, granted many of my students may not have had someone show that they care for them in the way that i, or the staff at our school, do, but i struggled to answer the question when they asked it. “well, um, you should care…” quick, flip through rolodex of stock answers that kids hear all the time “cause it affects you” well, if you are hopeless, this really doesn’t matter much. “why should you care?” i remember, especially on mornings at school that were continuations of the night before when both girls would be tag teaming their sheets with vomit, blinking, standing there motionless, thinking about what their life has been to this point, probably freaking them out that I didn’t answer as fast as other adults in their life, and saying “um, well, *far off look* (by the way, I have seen other people using these star things to show signify an action. I think it’s becoming universal?) you see…” and i would pause again and look at them. i wasn’t trying to freak them out or tell them not to care, i just didn’t want to “feed them a line”. i wanted to be the one that helped them understand that there is something to breathe for every day. but, what? I cannot tell them what. i could maybe weird them out so much that they come back the next day to see if i have their answer, but you can only show people how to care, not give them the why? not sure I agree with this, help me play with it.

i just paused my writing, stared out the window, and repeated the question to myself several times. like anthony michael hall in “the breakfast club” asking the “who am i?” question. i then heard tiny voices in the background (seriously i’m not writing that cause it sounds warm and cuddly. they are in the garage, with r. as I write this.) the same tiny voices who just refused to eat breakfast and were oppositional during teeth brushing, they make me happy, and if they catch me at the right time, those tiny voices along with r.’s fill me with emotion and energy that drives me to become more, but that is not why i care about life. i mean it is something i care greatly about, and it is where I devote most of my caring energies, but I cared about living before we had children.

i was staring out the window again, asking myself the question, and there is no answer. why do we care? we just do? unfortunately, we don’t always show it. more unfortunate than that, is some people simply don’t care about the welfare of others. some people, when asked why they care, think about how it services them, not how it services the whole. the whole of humanity.

i hope you care. i hope you care about building up rather than tearing down. i hope you care about love, respect, truthfulness, and above all, i hope you care enough to show other people that you care. if we do that? maybe there isn’t a need for a reason, maybe the “why do you care?” question is gone. maybe we won’t see one another as having motives that are self-serving, maybe we will trust again, and not have to care so much.

the best way i have found to show that i care? stick around. stay there by them. don’t say a word. just give them your time. doesn’t have to be physical, and certainly don’t annoy them, just let people know that you are available. i know this isn’t an advice column. i just got caught up thinking about my former students and the lessons that they taught me.