Anxiety is the discomfort we feel when we are uncertain of an outcome. And majority of our waking life we are uncertain of the outcome. We can have a guess how something will result, but nothing is guaranteed. It’s this unsettledness that triggers our anxiety. Sometimes this anxiety is minor. Like waiting on a bus to show up. Other times this anxiety is stifling. Like waiting on a doctor to deliver the results. At almost any given time, we are somewhere in between, experiencing some form of anxiety.
Most of this anxiety is egged on by fear. We fear losing what we have, or never finding what we need. We fear moving too fast, or moving too slow. We experience fear because fear is what kept us free from the jaws of giants and clear from the edge of cliffs. Only today, few of our fears play out. Instead, we suffer purely in imagination. We lie awake afraid our partner is cheating. We work weekends afraid our business is failing. We lose sleep afraid we will flunk. Only our partner never cheats, our business finds success and the exam is a breeze.
It is this wild imagination of ours that both makes us, and breaks us. It creates a fabricated system that forces us to decide. To decide whether a war is right or wrong. Whether a people is deserving or undeserving. Whether an individual is valuable or dispensable. It doesn’t matter that we don’t believe what we believe. We are prepared to keep spinning lies because we want to play the game.
Ask us and we’ll admit that we’re compulsive liars. But that doesn’t help. We know, for instance, that money is no more real than the tooth fairy. But we also know that’s how economic recessions occur. When too many people stop believing in value of money, money begins to go away. The same is true for every learned system and belief. Universities would disappear if we stopped valuing their qualifications. Democracies would disappear if we stopped valuing the elected party. Cross Fit would disappear if we stopped valuing exercise.
We live in a fabricated world, so we see what we want to see. That’s why when we look for anger we find anger. When we look for beauty we find beauty. When we look for failure we find failure. And when we look for success we find success. It is also why, when we look for love, we find an immunity to fear.
Only this isn’t a new idea. Love and compassion have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. They were taught to us by our ancient monkey ancestors. It is us who forgets.
Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl
When we’re coming out of sleep but we’re not really awake yet. For those few seconds we’re something more primitive than what we are about to become. We have just slept the sleep of our most distant ancestors, and something of them and their world still clings to us. For those few moments we are unformed, uncivilized. We are not the people we know as ourselves, but creatures more in tune with a tree than a keyboard. We are untitled, unnamed, natural, suspended between was and will be, the tadpole before the frog, the worm before the butterfly. We are for a few brief moments, anything and everything we could be. And then… and then – ah – we open our eyes and the day is before us and … we become ourselves.