Well, I lost a post. I’ve had too much coffee. The news about the economy has me on edge. Today’s post may not be so cheery. I find it hard to focus when there is so much swirling around in my head. I’m thinking back to right after 9-11 when Scott and I found ourselves eating a lot of ice cream. It was a sad attempt to keep anxiety at bay. Waiting for Obama to be elected produced a similar type of anxiety. We were part of something. Everyone held in limbo. The election, the economy, the tragedy– on the tip of everyone’s tongue. It’s a collective anxiety or what some call apocalyptic anxiety.
Last night I dreamed that my friend named Hope had gone missing somewhere in Asia. It’s possible she was dead. I was searching for her, looking for the truth of what had happened. I knew even while dreaming not to worry about the real Hope. In the light of my alarm clock, it was laughably obvious what this dream was about.
I don’t read the news much these days, but I do check throughout the day to see what the stock market is doing. Sometimes the Dow and my mood match. Today it’s down and having had too much coffee, I’m jittery. But everyone seems to be jittery. A low to high level anxiety seems to have gripped us all. Perhaps we can take comfort in knowing we’re not alone.
Scientists did a study that showed people identified as anxious at age 13 or 15 were less likely to die from accidental death before the age of 25. I’ve been mulling this over. Another scientist mentions a protective aspect to anxiety, but she doesn’t give details on this. Googling the benefits of anxiety didn’t produce much that was helpful.
An excerpt from a book called The End of the World: A Theological Interpretation by Ulrich H. J. Körtner discusses collective anxiety and in parentheses refers to collective courage. I guess that’s the flip side. I did more tangential research looking for hope and turned to a book on mindfulness. Daniel Seigel in The Mindful Brain goes for the acronym COAL. It stands for curiosity, openness, acceptance and love. This is hopeful, but hard. At least today it’s hard. It requires discipline I’m not always up to. Ice cream, movies, novels feel more my speed. It’s the distract and escape model. Mostly this works during the day and leads to insomnia at night.
A bleak posting to be sure. Tomorrow or even later today I will feel differently. I don’t stay in this place for too long. I hope you don’t either.
This leads me to poem. Just one line by Jane Hirshfield that I keep tucked in a pocket for occasional use. The poem is called Hope and Love.
I know that/ hope is the hardest/ love we carry.