Anxiety

I can’t hold on to a single thought. There’s lots of them, they’re swirling, and they’re frightening, but I can’t see a single one of them clearly, and every attempt to grasp onto one and examine it for what it is, is as futile as my attempts to keep hold of this exact moment, to stop and and understand.

My composure is fleeting fast, and I’m making mistakes, because I can’t even think, because it’s all too much, because my heart is beating faster, and I feel that at one moment the pounding in my chest will reach it’s crescendo and follow up with a sudden STOP.

I’m gagged by some invisible object, that fills my mouth, preventing a breath.

This frightening moment, might be my last, and I don’t want to go – I’m normally well expressed, existentially understanding and stoically together but it’s just – CAN EVERYTHING STAY STILL FOR ONE MOMENT? This is ALL TOO MUCH to handle, just STOP AND LET ME THINK. But the next thought I cannot even fathom has already taken the place of this one, already I can’t-

Just a minute!? You need to listen to me, I’m telling you to listen to me, you need to stop and give me a breather, just for a moment! I’m telling you to, and you’re me, my mind, so you have to listen! Just stop! I tell YOU WHAT TO DO!

It’s NOT stopping.

I’m NOT stopping. I’m not listening. Why am I not listening to myself? I AM IN CONTROL. IF I CAN STOP THIS, WHY ISN’T IT STOPPING, I WANT IT TO STOP.

It DOESN’T STOP. I won’t ever get a break, unless my heart gives out which it might this exact second, and I don’t want my last moment to be this one, to be like this. I don’t want to be scared, and to be flustered, and to have faltering breath at my last moment. I want my partner, and my mother, to be with me, and for my thoughts to be of precious times, but instead I’m afraid, and lying on the floor, clutching at my own legs.

My heart is beating out of rhythm with my chest. It beats too fast, it fights against my expanding lungs and halts their expanse, and I can’t even get a full breath to calm myself down, which is what they tell you to do, so what if I’ve messed it up, and I can’t recover, and I’m about to die. I’m dying.

This has to be it – my heart is going to explode, or my brain is going to cease, simply because the pressure within it, has become too much. Perhaps a vessel will burst, and I will feel my life drain away, as red drips from my eyes.

I can’t even breath, I can’t even recover, this is it – JUST STOP. STOP. It’s too much! IT DOESN’T EVER… STOP. THIS MOMENT IS MY LIFE, AND IT WILL BE MY LAST MOMENT, BECAUSE THIS DOESN’T… EVER… STOP.

But it does stop, doesn’t it? Eventually after some time, the moment has passed and some semblance of control returns, although exactly when its snares released their entrapment, is unbeknownst to you. All you know now, is that you can stand.

And although your heart is still beating fast, it is slightly over now – and all that remains is residual guilt, plastered across your insides. You feel so foolish, for having lost. So stupid, for not even being able to control your own brain. Your entire body is distraught, and in need of support. All of that, just to lose to yourself.

But you haven’t lost. You have confused losing the battle, with having fought it. You’re body is tired, and your mind is frazzled – but the fact the moment has subsided, means that you are victorious. It has simply taken its toll upon you.

As with any battle, there are casualties to account for, and time is required to reassemble your forces. And so you may not feel as though it is over, when it fact it is. You’re simply in a process of triage, which is the start on the road to recovery. Your strength will return, in numbers, if only you give it time.

You are worth more, than how anxiety make you feel. You are winning, and while you are afraid in those moments, IT is afraid for ALL of the rest of the time where you are in control. You are merely throwing it a bone, by giving it some moments now and then. Do not feel guilty that they may return, unfortunately the same conclusions that you came to, that allowed you to beat it this time, may not work next time – but that does not mean, it will not leave.

You are okay. Remember this. You are okay, and everything, no matter what comes, will be okay. You will deal with it and conquer it, even if in the midst of the play by play of the fight, you are afraid, you will emerge victorious. You are okay.

And on those days when you are not okay, remember – that is okay too.

Definition – A study of “Now”

It would be a presumptuous yet fair statement, to say that we all have a preconceived notion of what we want from our time in this life that we perceive as ours. An idea of what it would take for us to reach the plenum of existence, and consider ourselves “fulfilled”.

And yet, if you were to stop for a moment; put a pause of your life as best you could, and write a list of exactly what it is that you want from your time on this Earth, and make a conviction and a promise not to change that, you would run into two distinct problems.

One: while it is perfectly easy to suggest you pause your life, you obviously and unfortunately cannot. If you were to take your time and write this list, with the intention of completing it in totality and never changing it, you would encounter a problem based on an assumption you would have had to have made, in order to even begin writing the list. The assumption would have been that you, unlike everything else in the universe; are static. An assumption that while your body grows old and tires, YOU are always YOU.

When in reality, YOU are changing all the time. You are not some steadfast rock grounded into foundation which a river works around, rather you are part of its water. It just becomes difficult to define the water part, in the same way you can point to the whole river and say “water”, or pick out a single molecule and say “this too is water”.

It’s a result of a struggle to separate the “I” of the mind and the “I” of the body. Assuming they are not one thing, because one part thinks, and the other part is physical matter. We forget the physical matter provides the means by which the conscious thinks, and can therefore perceive the physical part.

The two are cyclical; perfectly chicken and egg. And the two are changing at every second of the day as you flow from one moment to the next. A great example of how ever fluctuating both your mind and body are; is you may have a memory of a time you were brave, and so you could define yourself as courageous – that you put your body in harms way to save another in some form. And yet, you will probably also remember a time when you were cowardly. When you stood and watched a bully, rather than intervene, for fear of reprocusion. So are you brave, or are you cowardly?

Or were you simply brave in one moment, and cowardly in another?

But while you think of that; you will come to:

The second of the two problems: you can write down the words, “I want to be happy” or “I want to have wealth”; but you must remember that these are just words, not the feeling as they are themselves.

That is to say, that to physically say the words, “I am happy.” is not the same as being happy itself. Being happy is an indescribable feeling, because once you are in a moment of happiness, you’re not thinking about how happy you are; you just are. Like all else, it’s like a flow. You lose track of time, and you simply are the experience you are living, and it’s one which through one way or another evokes happiness. If you are to stop and think “why am I happy?” or “how happy am I?” you have begun to detract from the experience, and may actually think “how could I be more happy?” which decreases the intensity of the experience further so that actually you can’t describe your feeling of happiness just now, because you’ve lost yourself trying to define it, and by comparing it to future or further happiness it’s now not as happy as you imagine you could be.

So you’re defining nothing.

In the same way you could say you “want wealth” and in one moment mean “money” and in the next mean “purpose.”

In summary; what this effectively means, is a “You” which is no longer “You”, is defining an experience of say, “Happiness” which you cannot define, because the “Happiness” you are trying to define has passed to the variation of “You” than you were, and the “You” that you are now because you spent the time to define it.

Classification and definition are traits of the intelligent entity; perhaps experience is the trait of the wise entity.

To live the moment; is better than to define it, for in defining it, you surrender it.

And while you could define a moment, retroactively, this is defining a memory of a moment, and not the moment itself. So it is subject to infinite complications and inaccuracies.

Definition enables comparison. Rather than experiencing temperature, you are now experiencing hot or cold, or hotter or colder. This applies to happiness and sadness.

Rather, live in the moment as it is. Do not fear it or long for changing of circumstances, simply bask in what is. And while you can choose to define, at least understand what you are doing to the moment by categorising it. Take the moment as it comes, as it is in its purest form. Do not long for more or less of it, or a greater or lesser intensity of it. Simply; be.

Regardless of what you do; I hope the moment you find yourself in now, is a happy one. Just try not to think about it.

 

What comes next…

The adventure doesn’t have to be good, to be worth having.

More often than not you pick up a book in order to see the protagonist brave adversity; to overcome obstacles corporeal or otherwise, endeavour against an antagonist mental or physical and reach a natural conclusion – rather than read how fantastic their lives are at all times, and how regardless of the black upon the white of the page it continues that way until the end. If we were to do that; if our characters were to stay static and for everything to remain unchanged regardless of what happened – then it would be as much use to us as if nothing happening at all. If life is a state of change, why would we endure an experience of nothing; of stubborn unchanging?

It makes sense for our character to change, evolve and develop from moment to moment, exponentially even from chapter to chapter; regardless of if that development is ultimately better for them, or worse.

What this tells us; is that what comes next, does not always have to be the time at which you were most happy, for it to be the time you most needed. It does not have to a time you were most proud of; in order for it to be a story you may later wish to tell.

In fact; a large number of stories you’ll recall from your youth, involve actions you would never take again. Or unintentional copious amounts of alcohol.

The age of anxiety is upon us; because we feel as though what we have now isn’t that great, and that it’s only going to get worse. Which seems terrifying.

In order to avoid it, we try to cling on to this exact moment, knowing all the while that inevitably it will be taken from us, whether we like it or not.

Rather, offer no resistance. Let it go.

Do not be afraid of what’s to come; relish in the experience, knowing that if what is to come is pain, pleasure will be put into perspective, and it will follow in time.

What comes next may not be the time of your life; but it will be yours. What you can decide, is your perspective upon it. And how you will tell the story, when its over.


 

This article is best paired; with the following:

Uncertainty

Stop The Possibility of Future Happiness, Determining Whether You Are Happy Now

Temporary

 

Stop The Possibility Of Future Happiness, Determining Whether You Are Happy Now

Happiness, as everything else in life, is fleeting. It is temporary. This is not scary, or negative. It’s a fact. You hurt yourself, you are in pain, then it goes away. You run, you are tired, and then it goes away. You are enraged, you are all consumed by some startling revelation… And then eventually it does subside. You’re sleepy, you go to sleep, and so on and so forth. It’s all temporary, regardless of whether it’s a minute, an hour, a day, a week, or years at a time. It is temporary.

The problem with that, is we must accept that we have to let go of the moment. That time, that feeling, or that possession we felt belonged to us. At some point, although it cannot be identified, we must let go of the current moment, for the sake of the next. And while we would like it to return again one day to a moment we enjoyed in some form of another – the sheer fact we cannot guarantee it brings about our anxiety, or our reluctance to truly let it go. It brings about a unique sadness, where we may not experience the moment, for fear of it not returning again one day. Similar to when you are sad while you’re on holiday, because you know you will be back home in a few days. This is silly. You’re allowing the sadness of not being on holiday, ruin your happiness while you’re actually on it. So now in both moments, you are not achieving your full potential, because you’re sad in the moment, about being sad in the future, about a moment where you were happy, where in fact now you are sad! Which is maddening, and confusing altogether.

If you were to wake up every morning, and consider that today may be your last day – you would drive yourself to the point of insanity, despite the fact that ultimately it is true; it COULD be your last day. To fear the content of the day for fear it is your final one, would be a very negative way to live.

It should not matter if you feel you have one more day to go, or twenty thousand more to go. Make that day count.

If you are to be sad that day, be sad. If you are to be happy that day, be happy. If you must when you are sad, remember that at some point you will be happy again. But to detract from some happy moment, because it may not last, is altogether not worth your time.

While it may be difficult to let go of the beauty as the sun sets, know; you will next have the stars to enjoy.

 

Shorts: Sixty Minutes

No matter what you’re doing in your life at the minute, no matter how busy your day appears to be, or how much furrows your brow each day – take sixty guilt free minutes; for yourself.

You, are as important as anything else on your plate at the minute. To handle all the things you consider important, you must first maintain that which allows any of it to be dealt with. Or even thought about and decisions considered.

Don’t feed the negativity, and the burden of the world. By feeding it, it only grows stronger, more confident, and more ferocious. It will visit more often, Pavlovian. Instead, feed creativity. Intelligence. Feed passion, love, and kindness. Feed selflessness, motivation, and self improvement. If nothing else, feed relaxation.

You deserve a warm bath. A hot chocolate. Your feet resting up against the table, with something wrapped around your body to keep your heat. You deserve your favourite song playing over the hot of a candle at night.

You deserve kind words from friends and loved ones. You deserve hobby which drives you, regardless of what end becomes of it or its futility.

It’s very easy to get caught up in it all; to wholeheartedly believe you should receive the full weight of burden that taxes you every day, and yet require no rejuvenation. And while that sounds convenient, and very noble; It isn’t. It isn’t brave to struggle, for the sake of it, to endure hardship without reward. It’s just sadism. Or masochism depending on your inclination.

It’s mental flagellation –  and your mind deserves better than that, because it allows everything you are, and how beautifully unique you are, to even take place and be perceived. Even if you get mad with yourself, disappointed, or even just a little disillusioned, remember you are absolutely astonishing.

Talk to a friend, or even better someone who will listen. They can remind you of that fact. They can remind you that life has been continuing outside of all that hinders you from sleep at night, and make larger objects in the mirror appear smaller than you might have thought. They can remind you that life will be okay, and whatever obstacles you considered large, are now long forgotten. So you can relax knowing that whatever stresses you out now, too will pass. In fact, you can take that as the one certainty in a world of anxiety. It will pass.

There is no once else like you, for every nuance of yourself. For small details you do not even notice in yourself, but that a poet would spot in a heartbeat, and write a sonnet without your knowing.

Relax. Be you.

Take sixty minutes. And between us, we’ll call it maintenance.

Pressed for time.

You will always be aware of the passage of time. As leaves around you turn amber and crumble, as trees wither and rivers shape mountains, you will be well aware that nothing can escape its grasp.

Man – is the only animal on Earth that pertains a concept of time; and with that comes an equally unique fear; what happens when it stops.

Rather than spin this in dim light, rather – look at it with unhinged beauty. Time is based on our own perspective. Five minutes to someone in an excruciating interview will crawl its way along, while the same five minutes to new lovers will pass in the snap of a finger.

While you can be certain that your life will expire as it is at some point in the future, and while you can say with relative certainty you will not live to be as old or much older than a century, equally, you could unexpectedly perish tomorrow of some unnamed disaster. While you know your time will end, you do not know when. You do not know how worth your time will be, or how quickly it will pass. The time on your clock may tick for the last time, in the following heartbeat.

So… run. You are pressed for time. And if you wish to leave some part of you in this universe, act with haste. Do not put up with situations that bring you unhappiness. Relish in those that do. Do not bother with people who are toxic to your well being, in any way. Rid their weight from your shoulders and press forward linked in swinging arms of equally enthusiastic runners. You owe nothing to anyone, and are bound by nothing but that which you yourself will accept to be bound to. The thing about the great social contract (where we conduct ourselves uncharacteristically for the sake of  the acceptance of others) is that we do not have to abide by it at all. And just because we have spent so much time on it, does not mean we must continue to do so.

“You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago”
– Alan Watts

Rather, do what brings you joy. With happiness being forever fleeting you must pursue it as though fire burns at the back of your heels. You must dish it out and lend a helping hand to those you can. Kindness and happiness can be shared without depreciation. So, do.

Put nothing on hold – because it can be dropped at any point – no matter how securely you imagine yourself to be holding it.

Let no anchor tie you to the shoreline, because adventure awaits beyond the horizon. To find new land, you must watch traverse stormy weather, and watch as the horizon obscures the security of where you came from.

Plan; but do not fret if the reality of the situation alters so much you cannot use it. While your sail can steer, it is still influenced by the wind. And the changing of that wind, is anyone’s guess. But that does not mean you should opt to float on driftwood, just because the sail may fail.

And so with that in mind, equally do not judge. Others or yourself. This will only stifle your release of endorphins from your runners high. In fact, do not concern yourself with the achievements or the decisions of others. Comparison rarely every bring anything other despair.

Instead… run, and beat the clock.

And while you will always be aware of the passage of time – you will slowly start to realise you no longer fear it. And the time you spent on the race will no longer matter, only how far you ran, and all the things you saw along your way. How you turned the leaves red, and shaped the mountainside.

 

 

 

Shorts: The Call of the Void – (L’appel du vide)

You’ve had a great day at work. Perhaps someone complimented your appearance, or your hard work received the recognition you feel it deserves. You’re going home to your favourite meal, and since you’re ahead in all your chores, there is little to do but put your feet up, and relax the night away. You stand at the train station, as a light rain pours down, with a smile on your face as you think of all these simple delights that await you. At some point, you glance over, and see that a train is approaching. It is not your train, and it does not stop at this station so it’s going at a fairly high speed. And although you are happy, a coldness washes over you. You stare blankly at the lights on the front of the train. And from somewhere in the attic of your mind, you suddenly think, “Jump.”

It’s a thought and a whisper and a command all at once. “Jump… Jump onto the tracks. Right. Now.”

The train blazes by. It’s gone undisturbed. The train driver is still smiling, completely unaware of what you just thought about doing. You watch the train for longer than usual, before staring blankly ahead. What just happened? Why did you think that?

L’appel du vide. The Call of the Void.

A french term, referring to that feeling we get, even for a brief moment, where we just think – “I could do something terrible in every sense of the word right now. For no particular reason at all.”

It can range from the example I’ve given above, to thinking you could just crash your car into a tree while the kids argue in the back. Or perhaps that you could push your beloved friend over a mountainside as you both stand enjoying the view. It could be to cause damage to yourself, or to a loved one, or just generally do something horrible, like knocking an ice cream cone from the hands of a child, simply because you can.

While this is a scary thought to think about, and we often feel at our most insane in these moments, the good news is… we all have them. You are not bad. We’ve all thought about doing something like that, and sometimes frequently. But most importantly… it’s completely normal. You’re not saying you WILL do them, or even thinking you should. It’s just a combination of a sudden feeling of power revealing itself at an opportune moment. It’s a sudden realisation that in this moment, you have control, and a power to do anything, regardless of whether it’s good or not.

It’s actually beautiful in a way, because for a brief second, we feel truly empowered. It just manifest’s itself negatively, because thankfully we don’t often think these thoughts, and so we seize our brief moment to do so.

The next time you do have one of these moments, be comforted by the fact that it is so common place, the French have a name for it. Be comforted knowing the kindest people you know, have thought these things also. And be thankful that while you thought them, you did not do them.

Instead, watch the train, or the tree, or the shrinking mountainside go by, smile and laugh to yourself, “L’appel du vide…”

People who cross at traffic signals.

If you can, at any point in life, be the person who decides when to cross at traffic signals, irrespective of their colour.

When you are on your way to work, or spending an idle day in the presence of a busy street, watch the people who wait by the traffic signals.

When the light for pedestrians is red; stand and watch. You’ll see a spattering of different humans, each categorised into a few different tropes, of which you will fall into one.

There are those who stand still, on their phone, gathering news, messaging friends, and ultimately and more truthfully, watching videos of animals being cute or humans falling over. These people have no concern for the traffic, for they know when to move, as the periphery of their eyes tell them that the bodies around them have begun to shuffle. And so too they canter to keep up.

There are those who listen to something on their headphones. Perhaps it’s a podcast, a motivational speech, an audio book, or some music. But whichever it is, they will stare blankly as possible across to the other side of the road, until perhaps at some point a smile will curl up from the edges of their mouth. It’s a song they like. Or maybe they’ve related to something said. They normally pay more attention to the traffic signals than those mentioned before.

There are the elderly, who rather consistently will not be on their phones, or listening to music. Largely they have grown without it, and unlike the younger generations can continue to do so, without trepidation, or the fear of the world passing them by.

There are the confident or perhaps flirtatious people, who can be an extension of the first two, except that these people are merely pretending to be doing what they are not doing. They instead, are thinking about how they look, and trying to appear as casual as possible, as they occasionally catch eyes with someone across the street. They smile and look at the floor, or up to the sky. Funnily enough, this casual attitude will extend as they both pass each other in the road when the lights do change. Unlike in adverts for perfume, no one ever meets in the middle of the road. Unless flattened.

There are people, who are eagerly awaiting the changing of the traffic lights, because a friend or loved one awaits them on the other side. These people have most likely forgotten all rules of social conduct, as they cheer and wave at their counterpart. Sometimes they’ll even shout words, that when taken out of context are either deathly frightening, or intolerably intriguing.

There are people who are anywhere between the age range of young to elderly, who are not on their phones, they are not listening to music, and they are not particularly looking at anything around them. These are insane people. Avoid these people.

There are a few other tropes, but as the list goes on, more so do they reach into sub-genres of the above mentioned. Regardless, the sustenance was never whom the crowd consists of; it is that they are waiting at the red light when they need not be. For there are only two options when there is a red light, either there is traffic coming, or there is not. And yet from our 50% chance, I would wager that 99% of the time, people are waiting. People are just standing… waiting.

Why? Unless jaywalking laws are particularly strict in your country… Why are you waiting? What are you waiting for? You do not need to listen to a light. If you are listening for the light, I can assure you, you will not hear it. This light is a guide, not a rule. Cross the road, if you wish to do so. Get to where you need to be, regardless of who is telling you otherwise. Regardless of who around you has chosen not to move forward, or stand still; you don’t need to listen to that whatsoever.

Take your surroundings, or advice, or rules, as a basis for caution; but do not let it hinder you. Because when you cross at a traffic signal, when the light is red, and no traffic is coming; you will notice something remarkable. Suddenly, 99% of people have begun to move. And now it all becomes silly, how such a small thing had been stopping them all along.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they act at traffic signals. Be a brighter beacon than that dim light telling you what to do.

– While this is all well and good, there is an addendum to this, which acts as an exception.

When the traffic lights turn green for pedestrians to move, and everyone starts moving; Watch for who is left behind. If someone stumbles or falters, perhaps they are unsure or need a hand – Stay. Wait. Help them. Take valuable time out your day, to make them feel valuable too.

For if you rush too far ahead, and leave all those in need of a little help behind you, perhaps you will turn around to find, that you left a better version of yourself behind also.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they act at traffic signals.

So perhaps the next time you’re beginning a new day, you’re at a crossroads, and you need to make a decision, remember this article. And reflect on how the traffic signals had nothing to do with anything.

Important thoughts, thought last.

The fourth beat;

I know it’s coming, and I calm myself.

The body is still in shock, but my mind is settled in its own.

As I lay back in my bed, I know now that it is too late to bargain.

Death’s machination; It has already begun.

Instead, I quickly pray for my last thought, to be a good one.

Although, my current thought feels persistent in the back of my mind

Clinging on, as though it will not leave me.

And that thought; I simply do not want to go.

The third beat;

The light begins to darken at the edges of my eyes, and my ears betray my balance.

If I were not sitting down, surely I would have fallen.

My head slowly falls back onto my pillow. Its final resting place.

I look at the pattern on the roof, the cracks and the fissures.

Straining my eyes I try, to fully capture one final picture.

One final still frame, called a moment. A memory.

My head falls to the side; and I see my condensation encrusted beer on my bedside table.

Amber leaves out the window, falling in the wind.

Sunlight always finds a way.

The second beat;

Closed eyes. It goes on, doesn’t it? Life. Whether I am here, or not, it continues.

Leaves will continue falling.

Sunlight will continue to brighten.

Beer will continue to sweeten the lips of lovers.

And it could not end, for nothing ever has. Every end must surely be a beginning.

Every bad time came to a close, every good time did not last.

Even now, my final thoughts do not belong to the same person in which in this body was born.

Not one single part of me has been the same. I was someone different all through my life.

And so in many ways, so many of me never did die. Or perhaps they already have.

The final beat;

I do not want to go. I do not fear nothing, for nothing has never existed.

I have never understood. And as I reflect, my life seems iridescent.

The humbling of I being one of many; and yet the grandiosity of knowing

That the universe in all its grandeur, existed within the circumference of my eye.

And while my final thoughts are of understanding, acceptance, friends, family and cold beer.

I cannot help think, as the light comes down low.

I simply do not want to go.