God, I don't know. Amen.

Written on October 2, 2015

Updated on October 3, 2018


Recently I've had more questions than answers.

I didn't think it would be possible, but it is. 

Many of my prayers sound like this: 

“God,
I don't know.
Amen.”

It’s an honest prayer.
A simple prayer.
A short prayer.
One I am only beginning to understand, but one He hears clearly.

Saying we don't know isn't a sign weakness; but appears to be the first breath to trusting the one we our surrendering our uncertainty to.

I don’t know.

For all I do not know, I know that we should hold close what we do know.

And here is what I know on Wednesday, October 3, 2018:

God is good and He has this under control.

Coffee is needed. 

Hugs are better than high fives. 

Yesterday is over, today is here, and tomorrow hasn’t arrived.

Hope doesn’t let our story end.

And I know I do not know much, but I do know I don't have time to be scared of the unknown.

Here is to not knowing. 
Here is to honest prayers.
Here is to listening closer. 
Here is to trusting.


WTS headshot.jpg

Tanner Olson is a writer, speaker, and spoken word poet. 
He is the creator of Written to Speak, a project that seeks to spread hope and announce love through written and spoken word. 

I'm trying


I’m trying

Sometimes it’s all I have to say.

I’m trying.

I’m tempted to think these two words are a cop out or an excuse, a cry from the weak.

But sometimes life is heavy and hard and all the things we don’t want it to be.

And these are the words that are left:

I’m trying.

They’ve become exhausted and are exhausting to say.

I’m trying.

Out of breath.

You’re okay.

Inhale.

Go on.

Exhale.

Keep going.

Deep breath.

You’re not done yet.

I’m trying.

i'm trying




Side

SIDE

I desire to write new words down;

to see something that flows left to right across this smudged screen.

I'm trying to get past writer's block, but find myself running straight into brick wall after brick wall after brick wall.

I'm looking for a door to walk through; to escape where I am; to step out of the storm.

I want to clutch the doorknob, twist, and push my way through to the promised land other side, but this brick wall doesn't have a door.

Or a window.

I feel enclosed; blind to the outside – stuck alone on the inside.

Hope seems far, while weariness and frustration grow quick like weeds.

Maybe I should close my computer and walk away.

Or sit on the couch within eyesight and read a book.

Or watch Back To The Future II on Netflix.

But I think I'll save that for tonight.

Coffee always helps,

but these teeth are moving further from ideal pearly whites.

Giving up isn't an option.

I'll get past this brick wall, i’ll make it to the other side.

Maybe I'll grab a ladder or a shovel

But I want to work to get to the other side.

I want the hammer.

A big hammer.

A hammer that needs two hands.

Not Thor's, but my own.

Rage and frustration will propel me to pound straight into the brick wall.

Vibrations will shake these arms, but I will not be stopped.

I will chip, crack, and break that wall,
but I will not chip, crack, or break at all.

Shock will meet sweat, but I will not stop.

I'll shatter the bricks to see to the other side.

I'll close my eyes and grit my teeth and wipe my brow.

I'll grip tight and rip my skin and I won't get woozy when the blood mixes with the dirt.

I'll curse and spit and ask for forgiveness and repeat.

I'll ignore the lies inside my mind that tell me to go lay down inside.

I'll wave off the pain in my back.

I'm moving forward.

The wrinkles are growing deep around my eyes with every hit, every wince.

And maybe I should give up.

Maybe I should have just climbed the wall.

And maybe the hammer isn't my tool of choice.

It isn't.

I prefer the spork.

You know, the spoon shaped utensil with tines at the tip to scoop and stab.

But I will not give up.

I will knock this brick wall down.

I will see the other side.

And I will write something that matters.

The screen will hold new words and

these words will act like a hammer in these calloused hands.

These words will tear down the brick walls within the mind of the writer and reader.

I will write something that someone, somewhere can relate to.

Someone.

Somewhere.

And Somewhere someone will see this isn't about writer’s block.

Somewhere someone will nod their head and see though the brick wall.

They'll see this brick wall isn't really a brick wall, but it is fear.

It is uncertainty.

It is depression.

It is the questions that swarm.

It is wondering if I am taking steps in the right direction or if I am just taking steps.

It is a crossroads, a tossing and turning all night, an unshakeable thought.

It is regret and anxiety and waking to another Monday that should be Saturday or at the earliest Sunday.

It is the constant battle between love and pain and I'm growing weary from fighting.

They'll see the hammer as tears.

Or confession.

Or prayer.

Or another cup of coffee.

Or an honest conversation.

Or a hug that lasts too long, but not long enough.

They'll see through the line about a spork as a poor attempt to distract from speaking openly.

From saying what needs to be said.

The shifting of the rudder to steer the conversation off course so you'll stop looking at me as a crazy person.

I'm not a crazy person.

And they'll know this wasn't about writer's block.

 

But this is about living.
This is about continuing.

This is about waking up and saying okay.

Saying i'm okay.

Saying we're okay.

Saying it's going to be okay.

Even when there is a brick wall.

Even when it's Monday.

Even when fear.

And depression.

And regret.

Tell you it isn't going to be okay,
it will be okay.

Every day.

I'm okay.

We're okay.

It's going to be okay.

Welcome to the other side.

Other

OTHER

Give it time. 

You'll make it to the other side, but for now -

For now - you are here

Where uncertainty and questions and truth and dad jokes collide and live side by side

Where everything is visible and out of sight;

wild & calm.

Here, where there isn't enough coffee or smiles or tacos

Where 7 billion of us stand together and alone beneath the sun and moon;

storms and stars

But give it time.
You'll make it to the other side
and for now
come alive.
Throw a pizza party.
Order a milkshake, order two milkshakes, order everyone a milkshake .
Get lost within the beauty of daydreaming only to wake to chase them down
Listen like every sentence is a secret and it's third grade again and they are asking: “do you want to know who likes you?”
Check yes when you can.
Respond with kindness.
Replace hate with love.
Spread hope like Nutella, because we can never have enough of both.
Search for answers with humility,
Live with palms face up,
give grace to the dark places of your life,
and when you dance,
because you were made to dance,
dance like no one’s watching
and if they are, give them something to see.

 

Seek a forever beyond the heavy chaos of living and evening traffic and grocery stores full of hard avocados and broken smiles.

Find magic and don't let it go

Embrace
the weird
Protect
Passion
Meet
peace in the escaping present

And like Grandma said, 
“Count your blessings” and when you get to a million and one don't be done, start again.
Hold on to compassion and curiosity as you step and stumble to where you are going
and when you stumble get up and keep going.

Keep going like it's going to be okay
Face fear

Pray on bent and broken knee

Stand up and step again

And when you stand to step

Step to stand up for what is right

stand up against what is wrong

stand up for those who have gone on -

pause

in the presence of beauty and

photograph the memory with your own.

Risk everything even if you’re the only one who sees why
Chase a sunset and take a bite out of the cotton candy sky
Stay for tomorrow,
Live with more love than yesterday

Walk with the weary
and learn their songs and sing them with your soul

Write + speak honest words of love

Shout a song of celebration and
celebrate good news.

Scream beneath the rain until your mouth fills with a sip and let that sip turn into a smile.
Create art and nachos and sandcastles and share them with our world.

Tell your story,
the one you're living, the one that is changing our world, because you are changing our world.

And watch.

Watch it continue to spin and change.

Invite others to join the change

Take root and hold each other up

Call patience close and push comparison far, far away

and be the awaken.

Remain the awaken.

Go North to South, East to west

Sit on a front porch and be.

Just be.

Be present.

Give it time
and
we will get to the other side.

The

THE

I don’t remember how the last line of this poem goes,
But the end cannot find us if we never begin.
Written from the same hand,
You and I are living stories of a different kind,
Each day offering life to stain a white page,
breathings from our heart to move beyond the start.

And I’ve got a little something left to live,
For the ink to dry a line at a time.

I’m folding down the corners of the memories that burned and meant the most.
Like losing her at the end chapter 2 and stumbling upon solace in the midst of the thunder storms I tried to undo.

I’ve underlined stories to go back and read,
Crossed out what I can’t erase,
Found your polaroid tucked between chapters 7 and 8.

It’s the words that paint the picture as proof, bringing me back to spring in the south,
Outside her brick house
Where the wild flowers stretched north,
Blooming without a doubt like we did at the end of chapter 9.

It’s all been written down with swords and pens,
Blood and ink
reminding us of the narratives of how we used to act and think.

Living, like writing, drives us home,
Leading us down roads of mile marker memories and cable line collections.
We’re all a constant work in progress, stuck under construction, slowing to another detour never planned.
 

Foot on the gas, it reminds me of the past -
of what was,
of who I’ve become.

I drive to keep from becoming numb,
Like writing, it’s how I deal with how I feel.

Pen stained palms,
Hands on the wheel,
I’m checking my rearview mirror once more, wondering what it’d be like to rewrite chapters three and four.  
If I had made a right where I went left, would I be left feeling like everything is right?
The quiet things no one knows are trapped in chapter five,
and I’ve torn out those six senseless pages so many times I’ve got papercut battle scars and new memories on both hands.

But i won’t ever forget how good it felt to scribble down chapter ten,
And I can’t help but think it wouldn’t feel this way if it wasn’t for way back when -
Back when I was writing with faded ink from a chewed up pen,
Misspelling with passion, living inside present time instead of tracing over what’s been.

It’s the chapters we can’t erase ... and the ones we want to frame,
The days you tried to keep up and the ones that let you down.  
It’s the silent moments no one will ever hear,
And the days your lungs shout to disappear.

It’s about learning how to come alive when you’re bored to death,
And how to write in a comma when you need to catch your breath.
Having written through the rain and fear, it’s all becoming more clear.
Living isn’t about the last line, but continuing to write the story to the end.

We’re all living notes from the past,

Sliding smiles and secrets beneath the surface
Hoping our story will last,
Passing questions and confessions with looks and glances
For our lives to be read again by future writers and poets,
To be known beyond what we understand.

Write it well, let the ink of each piece dry in peace.
Scribble in grace where the darkness seeks a turn.
Re-write hope, etch in forgiveness, and
Replace hate with love.

Write it well, let the ink dry in peace.
For the end cannot find us if we never begin.