One only has to spend a little time in any state of awareness of what’s going on in the world to be reminded of a whole host of reasons to be anxious. To be sure, these are anxious times.
Anxiety has been with us since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden and had to figure what to do next. The French intellectual and poet Paul Valery identified the “age of anxiety” in 1919 as the world was engulfed in the horrors of war. W.H. Auden wrote his poem “The Age of Anxiety” in 1947. Plus ça change … Anxiety is a part of our existence, a part of our human condition. Now it is even diagnosable.
The word derives from a Latin word meaning to choke or squeeze and refers to tightness or narrowness. In the face of anxiety, it is understandable that some will want to return to the (familiar) past. To minimize pain or defend against anxiety, the first impulse may be reactive rather than proactive. Blaming, forming coalitions, or looking for quick solutions are efforts to return to the status quo and restore balance to the system. Whether the perceived balance is in the best interest of the system is beside the point for those trapped in anxiety.
When the time came for you to be born, keeping things the way they had always been was not an option. What lay between you and the world was narrowness and constriction: anxiety.
The only resolution to anxiety is to go through it. Breathing deeply. One step at a time. Not alone.
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