Last day before Char and Jay come back and I have done most of my web-work, the remaining laundry and Blog-catch-up. On the one hand I am relieved, really – and yet … during the day I felt some anxiety about the future all of a sudden, which first made me, well, anxious. And then a bit mad.
I mean, I thought I had crossed most things off my “Life-Figure-It-Out”-list for now, both short- and long term items.
For example, I no longer feel anxious about future income as much as I did last year, when I wrote a slew of posts about that and then some. I feel a lot more accepting of the fact that it may vary a lot and that I may not really figure out how to do any systems that bring in more regular/dependable income in the short-to-medium term. I have recently felt a lot more accepting of just having to make-it-up as I go along, instead of searching for THE one big Shiny Solution. Just do the next best thing I can think of that is motivating and which may bring in extra cash on a more regular basis, like the WordPress theme review-site which I think I have mentioned before.
So that has been a Big Issue that I feel finally has found some kind of closure, even if it hasn’t really. But inside me it has. For now.
That and other issues, like what art- and writing projects to pursue and how. Also something I spilled a lot of virtual ink angsting about last year …
And there aren’t any serious problems on the family- or health-fronts right now. And in the near-term (which means, I suppose, the rest of the year … ). At least nothing on the horizon that looks particularly ominous.
And Donald Trump has not blown up Latvia yet. Or North Korea. Or himself (although he is trying hard with regard to the latter.)
So … what?
Well … This:
An undefinable fear that ‘it is too late’. I won’t really get to do the things I really want to do in life before I die. Period.
Just like that.
And an irrational fear at that, too. I mean, even for a midlife-crisis …
I can understand my parents being afraid of that. Or my grandmother-in-law.
I know we can die tomorrow and all that. I could have died tomorrow every day for the last almost-44-years. But there is no reason I should in the next 20-or-so years, at least. Or 30. Or even 40.
Maybe I will, but there is no particular reason I should.
And even if we forget the usual ups-and-downs that surely will come, like health problems to some degree with age, people you know getting seriously ill or dying, financial struggles etc … Even if we assume, as is usual, that the number of good things and quiet periods will balance these other, darker periods … well, if we assume that then: All other things are equal right?
Sure, a meteor could strike, but there is no reason to believe it will.
And if it strikes then it strikes and there is nothing to do about it.
If I did not believe in some sort of ‘Divine’ dimension beyond this one, I’d say it was coincidence and then what? Nothing, obviously. You can’t fight coincidence.
If I was religious in the fundamentalist sense I might go with ‘fate’ or ‘punishment for sins’-explanation. But I am not.
The closest I can come to an explanation if I die tomorrow or in 5 years’ time, before I reach 50 … yeah, that would probably be ‘fate’. But meaning: That there is some part of my life that is already planned. Either it is something to do with that elusive concept called “karma”. Or it is something to do with what a part of myself – a ‘Soul’ – which I am not much aware of here on Earth – has decided.
I realize this is all very esoteric and I wish I had the room to explain it here. But I don’t. I suppose if you believe, even remotely, in some of these types of worldviews that can include concepts as “karma”, “soul” or “Soul” or the like, then you don’t need much more explanation or reasoning than that.
It is not the point to convince myself or you either, by the way. Of the plausible, or even possible existence, of a world beyond the physical which influences our lives with laws of its own.
I’m just doing self-analysis – trying to pin down that anxiety and force it to answer me:
“If you truly believe x,y and z – why so afraid?”
Meaning whether or not I believe in “coincidence” or some kind of “karma” controlling at least a part of our lives then I can’t do much about it, except the best I can do. And since I don’t believe in the Christian version of “punishment” I can discard that option.
I don’t have to pay attention …
But yet I feel anxiety. Of that kind described above: That I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to live out what I want – not do the creative projects I want, not do enough purposeful things while I am here. Both for myself and for others. Not use enough of my skills.
And so on.
I suspect that this feeling – for some reason – comes from a deeper part of the brain, or the interface between brain and spirit if you will. In any case: A part that is more animalistic – fight or flight-oriented.
And it has been triggered for some reason. I can’t see reason – only fear of something. Like when I was in psychiatric hospital with rampant anxiety and obsessive thoughts about harming myself and others (which made me have rampant anxiety since obviously I did not want to harm anyone).
I was that way in 2005 and the part about the animal brain is related to some of the explanations I read for OCD – for that was how I interpreted it (or “pure O” – with only obsessive thoughts that you feel are dangerous).
Something triggers that part of yourself – the animal, the little child maybe. The very crude fight-or-flight-part that is natural to all humans, no matter if it resides only in our grey matter or also has a spiritual component.
Then if that part is triggered all the time, you get a psychiatric diagnosis like I did.
Well, enough philosophy. It is not like I am sitting here, shaking, right now. I don’t have an anxiety attack. I don’t have OCD. I am not ill.
But this sense of anxiety sure felt strong enough to bring up unpleasant memories about being ill.
A bit like one of the very first posts I wrote, where I would have these – relatively mild – but persistent – feelings of anxiety in the morning. In the months before Jay was born.
I suppose then there are circumstances, such as becoming a father or that vague concept of a “midlife crisis” that could trigger this deeper part of one-self and call out feelings of anxiety on some scale. Hardly enough to incapacitate me, but enough to be felt and not ignored.
So what do I do about it?
I don’t have any clear explanation of the physical, social or even spiritual causes of this anxiety. But today is not the first day I have felt it.
I can only tick off some boxes and say: “Oh, it’s not about this … and not about this … “. Like Jay, for example. It is not about him. I feel that surely.
It might have something to do with my sense of being able to create all that I want now that I for 20 years have tried all the other stuff – get a job, make money, make some kind of difference through a regular job – or even your own firm. And it hasn’t really worked well.
Like, in 1997 when I chose my education I wanted to take a degree in “International Development” and be someone who planned these development projects in poor countries which were set to help poor people.
I don’t believe, with my CV, I will ever have a chance for that. And I am, frankly, quite disillusioned about such interventions in any case. They matter, sure, locally and where ever they are done with local ownership, sufficient resources and not too much corruption.
The same can be said for larger interventions, whenever they happen – such as EU policy changes to their trade restrictions vis-a-vis Africa, for example.
But I can’t see myself doing any of that, and even if I could I would never be good enough to be a politician or bureaucrat or leader of a civil society organisation that could have influence that I felt would really matter enough.
Okay, maybe I could. Maybe there would still be time for that. But I don’t feel it is the best course I can take anymore. I have not felt that for a long time.
Even Bill Gates for all his money, or the leaders of large charities, or the biggest donor-countries or international organisations in the world – like the World Bank … even those individuals or organisations … you know, they just patch up the house as it is burning.
But you know … there is still a lot of war, environmental degradation, poverty and social injustice. And there will be for a foreseeable time. Because, as sages have said for centuries:
Any kind of truly lasting global change to our society has to come from within. Has to come from a change in how people view the world and how they feel connected with the world.
(Or at least they have said something to that effect -these wise guys … )
Of course, all things play together. Money counts. It is easier to help people change their minds about something if they don’t have to struggle for food. I have understood that for a long time.
But part of my pure impetus for starting The Blog was that I felt my contribution to the world would be best in sharing experiences (and uplifting reflections) about how to make the best of life. About how to be the most happy. Free for anyone who can read English, has access to the Internet and can identify with me.
Others do similar things – on other blogs, for example.
And that, I believe, can be a crucial component of any change.
I mean, what if you could have an ‘invisible partner’ all day, every day, for at least half of your life – when it matters? Like, 40 years of your life … ?
I mean, when I first began to feel depressed and stressed around 2000 I ran into those Conversations with God-books which meant a LOT to me. I felt they were my companions. They were built as dialogue and I could identify with author Neale Walsch asking ‘God’ all the questions. And I felt the answers were usable.
So Neale or “God” or whoever wasn’t really there, and yet … he/she/it/they were. Simply because it was such a downright practical book-series about a middle-aged man trying to make sense of his life and of the world. And he got answers with a spiritual foundation which he could use, very practically, to see his life differently and to change his life and to change his thoughts about life. (For example: regrets … oh, boy!)
I want The Blog to be something like that. Except that I am not God.
But I am a friend. And I believe in the power of sharing experience – what I have done to feel better, like today, when I felt down. What has uplifted me – at different times in life, and in different circumstances.
That can be universally useful. And very, very powerful. Esp. once we approach 14000 posts!
And then I’ll just have to do my little bit locally, as everyone else ought to:
- buy organic food and the like
- vote for collective interests instead of narrow interests
- be a good friend, spouse, father, son
And do my best to whip up a bigger income, say from my webdesign firm or a creative project, so I can donate some to projects for people who need help – social projects, environmental projects, etc. I already sell a limited no. of hours of webdesign service per month where the fee goes directly to a charity. So more of that.
And then The Blog.
That’s how I see my best contribution to the world now.
All the creative stuff I am afraid I don’t have the time to do anymore, because I skipped that career in my early twenties – believing I was supposed to be in International Development and a lot of other things … well, all of those projects … all those ideas … longings …
They are the ones that need attention …
Not for the world’s sake, anymore. Because I can’t change the world by writing a book or drawing a comic. I didn’t believe that anymore at 23 and I don’t do now at 43.
But I know I have to do more of it, because it is a longing of my soul. So it is for my sake and my sake alone that I want that.
And now, today, I felt again afraid that I – for some reason – would not make it. Would not draw all the things I really want to draw. Or write all the things I really want to write.
Very afraid …
And I think I know why …
I felt afraid because I was not spending enough time doing it.
For when I don’t spend enough time doing it, then … it is obvious to feel afraid: “What if I die tomorrow or next year? … Without having … ”
I see that now.
And I shared that.
I hope you can use it. I can.