Notes on the ‘DO’ Itch

Do you ever get the ‘DO’ itch? It’s that restless and largely inexplicable urge I get from time to time to do something with my life. It’s usually amplified by things like social media and baseless articles that tell me to follow my passion, repercussions be damned.

We live in a world where there are a number of problems to pick and choose from, but the DO itch tends to be more influenced by peers and what they are DOing, and imagined perceptions or reactions to what you DO.

For years, my job and its entrenchment in digital media was my excuse for the copious amounts of social voyeurism and people-watching from “behind the coldness of a computer screen”. What I discovered was a world where we all work so hard to set ourselves apart but, by inadvertently also seeking acceptance, all end up looking the same. At some point, we will get tired, and vow to look inwards, ignore the world and focus on developing ourselves. But we miss it too much; without the world, how do we define ourselves? And, in a world where everyone listlessly wafts through while staring at their phones, non-participation is synonymous with loneliness. We don’t want to be alone. We want “to be seen and to be significant”, we want to matter. The selfless and largely innocent voyeurism becomes the seed of selfishness that blocks out the mayday of a blaring sun and a world screaming to be saved from itself.

But I still want to DO something. I’m reminded whenever someone does something bad (like a mass shooting), but more often when people do good and I am reminded of the good that I too, could DO in the world. Some call it inspiration; I call it the DO itch. It is not a good thing. It is nagging and, while composed of good intentions, also possesses features of myself I wish I could hide. Like envy. A gangrenous envy that lies dormant until it comes into contact with a greatness my ego tells me I am intended to fulfill. It is an itch that isn’t driven by a desire to make the world a better place. That exists too. But the DO itch is directed by a desire to be seen to be doing good, rather than the good I would be doing itself.

KPIs of the DO itch include Facebook likes, retweets, shares. They do not include phone calls, except those from people you haven’t spoken with in a decade who see what you are DOing and are prompted to ask for you help in DOing something similar. No feeling is quite as intoxicating as being needed. Why would any woman who goes through natural birth, have another child? The numbing sweetness of being needed drowns out memories of the pain.

But I don’t want to DO something for the sake of it, and I certainly don’t want to DO something that earns me vials of recognition in the form of being needed. In my life, I have been God: I have been the curator and the destroyer, actress and director. But I have never felt fully in control because whatever I DO, there is something more that can be done. I want to be rid of the DO itch and its distractions. I want to be free of the urge to see my DOings from a thousand imagined eyes, suggestive glances and questioning stares as to whether or not I will DO or not DO, achieve or slither away into the crevices of aging memories of the time when I did something. I don’t want to DO and be done with it; I want to DO something that lives beyond myself, even while I’m here.


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