The Nature of My Anxiety

Everyone is always asking for the same thing from life.

We go through the motions of school, work, careers to make money to one day be able to change our lives. We have the picture in our minds of what we want to create, yet no one around me is doing it.

I’ve seen and read how you should get up and go. Leave that behind and live the way you are supposed to. But I’m conflicted, and not because I don’t know how to start.

I’m conflicted by love.

There are so many people around me that I love and care for. Randomly getting calls for advice on how to act in a compromising situation, reading over the same thing again that was just worded differently because you need someone to read it, being that last strain of support you have on this side of the world.

I care about so many people, as our human nature compels us to. We are beings of community, derived on love and thriving on happiness. Yet, when I look around I fail to see that.

I see people failing to be there, I hear petty drama about people who fail to think for themselves. I recognize that I do the same, because it’s what is asked from our circumstances.

I try to talk to people about it, but they are in on it too. It appears to me that we have been conditioned to assimilate to letting life not be lived to the fullest. Which blows my mind.

Some of the people that I am closest to, that are able to think critically for themselves, even they will tell me the same thing.

You should finish school to be able to get a job. You need a way of getting money to support yourself. You have to think about the future that you want to have.

This idea of the future will not happen if we keep conforming to what other people are saying. Yet I’m still doing exactly what they want.

What does it take to be happy. How is life supposed to be lived.

Life has taught me a few things so far. First, something that makes you smile is something you should continue to do. Second, when you live for someone else’s dream, you will fail to live your own. Third, do whatever it takes to be happy.

So far it seems like I’m failing to follow my own lessons. But I’m not writing this as a diary entry about a rut in my life. Almost the opposite.

I’m questioning why it is that so many people have been tricked into the system and don’t know how to get out of it. And why that I can recognize this and not do anything about it, for myself or anyone around me.

I had a very profound shower thought today, and stay with me because it is kind of out of this world.

I realized that my higher consciousness looks down on my life, living through my eyes one moment at a time. This consciousness is what really knows all these secrets of how to live life, and it merely notices the decisions I decide to make. Now a conscious decision would be the one that my consciousness is present when I actually decide. Therefore, we have unconscious decisions that our body is making without our consciousness.

So I look at my life and question why I wouldn’t be making conscious decisions all the time if I had the ability to. But it is hard to be that present all the time, so we like to take breaks. We sleep to dream, we watch a movie to observe someone else’s life, we get lost in the rhythm of the music to forget about our worries. These moments are necessary to balance out our life, between the conscious and unconscious.

Our higher consciousness, the wise voice in the back of your head that comes around occasionally, would laugh at some of the decisions we make, if it has a sense of humor.

Think about the reasoning of why we do anything that we know is not good for us. We want the reward, whether it be through hard work or no work. Yet, we know.

Life is not supposed to be spent in a chair. Life should be experienced, and we constantly choose to listen to what someone else is telling us is best for us. This is when we need to know how to be selfish. If you live for what someone else is telling you, then you will never make yourself truly happy.

Never.

Yet, I find myself and my loved ones constantly stuck in someone else’s thought out plan. We seek advice from others, someone else. We ask questions and get answers, from someone else. We are unhappy and we blame, someone else.

I’m tired of witnessing it. My heart is hurting from it. I want to change this, but I fear I have no control.

This is the nature of my anxiety.

The Dying Art of Good Conversation

In the current state of the world, our connections are being created through the internet more often than in face-to-face interaction, which is frustrating. It is human nature to make connections with each other, and it doesn’t get more real than through a meaningful conversation.

Everything nowadays is about being better, faster, stronger. Advertising the newest technology that can further your life. Getting stuck on social media instead of being productive, checking the number of likes your selfie on Instagram got for the fifth time in 3 minutes.

I know this is a negative view, but technology is great when used in the right context; if it’s not relied on or overused. We get to connect with distant friends and see what they are doing with their lives, work from a place we call home, and access a seemingly infinite amount of information on the internet. Learning to control ourselves to not overindulge is a process, but is necessary to make the most out of our lives.

In my eyes, conversations are one of the best things we can do to improve our lives and make us happier. We need to stay up late to have more heart to heart talks with our best friend, or decide to talk on the phone with Mom (who everyone knows could go on for hours). If we continue to overlook the importance of human connection, we will surely lead ourselves to the downfall of humanity. It is human nature to connect with like-minded others, and something is getting in the way.

Maybe that’s why I felt lost in this generation; stuck in this age of information. So many facts to learn, truths to disclose, feats to witness, experiences to have. I needed a release, a way to take a break from all this commotion.

So I tried a lot of things, and adopted many of them into my life. But, time and time again, I found that having a good conversation was the best remedy. And by good, I don’t mean small talk about how your day is going. I mean the real, intimate, mind-blowing, thought-provoking kinds of conversations.

All conversations should be more like this. It is a time when you can talk with someone about anything that might come to your mind. Let your thoughts flow as you speak the words. This can be so beneficial in your life, especially your relationships, well-being, happiness, creativity, and even sanity (if that ever needs saving).

When you engage in a style of conversation that is fully open, you learn to break down barriers and reveal your true, genuine self to whomever you’re speaking with, but more importantly, to yourself.

I’ve battled anxiety for a couple years now, and while I’ve pulled away from it, it will never truly leave me. I definitely believe that conversations helped me think more clearly and find my true self. Through conversations, I was able to exchange ideas on the nature of the world that we exist in, how we operate, what drives us, what love really is, how we should express emotions, what family means to different cultures, differences between meditating and praying, the food we are putting in our bodies, how drugs can affect our minds, what death is or isn’t, if there is a God, and the list goes on.

It’s like looking up some astounding fact on the internet and reading everything you can on the topic. The difference with a conversation is that you think about the countless answers, searching for what your true beliefs are.

* * *

There is nothing that is true, until you find it in yourself.

* * *

So, the difficult task in front of us is how to get this kind of critical-thinking into our daily, hectic, high tech lives. This is why I feel stuck. No one wants to randomly contemplate why the universe exists when you are walking through the grocery store. But there is a part of every person that shares this curiosity.

Some people are more prone to this style of deep thinking, while others need some sort of agent to help them get to this depth of thought. This could be a guiding friend or mentor, a near-death experience, the death of someone meaningful, a religious conversion, a psychedelic experience, your will inside to want more, a mind blowing phenomenon: a rise in consciousness. I’m not sure where this agent comes from or how to know which style might help someone best, but I believe that is up to the individual to decide and find out.

Plato has a very compelling story for understanding how to approach this, titled The Allegory of the Cave. I suggest you read it yourself in his book, The Republic, or watch it here. But in short, imagine you were chained inside a cave and never saw what the outside world looked like. If someone tried to explain how beautiful nature is, they would sound completely ridiculous, even though they speak the truth. This story is questioning how you, as the one who has seen the light, the enlightened, can get someone to understand something that can barely be explained in a way that they consciously understand it.

As I’ve read and talked about Plato’s theory, conversation is at the core of this shift and is a key element to this awakening; the conversations that contemplate your most other-worldly ideas and bring a new understanding to your life.

And this is not a religious preach to find God, or calling for a change in the time that we live, because that can’t connect with everybody. Not everyone believes in the same religion or style of governing. Therefore, there must be a middle ground between all the different religions and science and philosophy and quantum physics that can help us understand life better.

And that is what a conversation can help us find. When you look inside yourself, you find what you believe. If everyone finds what their true beliefs are, and looks passed propaganda and advertising to see what life should really be, then we could start to think about how this world can be changed. Until then, I say we put down our phones, turn off the TV, and get lost in sharing our thoughts with each other.

There is so much of this world that can be discovered through conversation. The possibilities are endless.

A Story of the Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Look at it. It’s almost a speck it’s so small. Looking down the tunnel, I think about how long it was since I started.

I look over my shoulder, the other side looks just as far. I’ve come a long way since the start; I can’t tell which side I’m closer to anymore. I keep trekking on towards the unconquered end.

The narrow path I’m walking on seems to be comforting at this point. It must be at least a couple feet wide, but with the wall to my right and the edge to my left, balance is important. I must keep focused on the task at hand; reaching my destination.

I run my knuckles along the wall to keep me on the path to the light. The darkness has become soothing. Letting me think, my mind wanders.

I know why they call it the Paw Paw tunnel now. You just have to put one paw in front of the other, and keep going. Well, feet in my case, since I’m not a dog, or a bear, or some other animal with paws. Cats, lions, mice. Wait, mice don’t have paws…

I can hear the whispering of mice behind the wall.

They probably don’t ever get to see the light. Living in this darkness. How do they do it?

With curiosity, I wonder what a life without the light would be like. The light gives me a sense of direction, even though I can’t see the path. I use it to guide me, to stay on my course, to keep me going…

The mice don’t have a direction, but do they need one? Clearly, they’ve gotten to a point where they can survive behind the walls. They get their necessities I assume: food, water, a cozy brick to lie up against. That’s what these mice need.

I need more though. Reaching the light is a fuel for me, a desire. My passion. It’s always said that it’s more about the journey than where you end up. Well I know that where I end up will be the reminder of where I came from.

I stop for a moment to light a cigarette with one of the last matches I have. The spark flares, beaming red then quickly toning down to a vibrant orange. I just watch it for a second.

Almost forgetting why I light the match, I inhale. I wait until the last moment before throwing the match to the canal.

That moment was inspiring. For the first time since I entered, I could see the arched ceiling above me. Some sort of moss or something was growing, I couldn’t tell what it was. I was too busy admiring it’s pattern that seemed so organized, yet so random.

Who knew there could be such beautiful life where there is no light.

The last thing I saw before the match hit the water was a dead mouse floating in the water. Maybe it was one of the lucky ones to escape being trapped behind the wall. But it wasn’t able to survive. Maybe the mice inside the wall were the smarter ones; they were content enough to survive.

Hmm. Funny.

I found that both mice had lessons to be learned. The mouse who drowned was ambitious; he wanted to do better, he wanted more, just like me. He ventured along until he found his escape from the wall. Having been on one side of the wall his whole life, he had no idea what to expect. He was used to the dark, but not used to the edge apparently. His ambition took over, got the best of him, and lead him to his own demise.

On the other hand, the mouse inside the wall was content. He figured he has everything he needs, why ask for more. He never had even the slightest thought of what was on the other side of the wall, because he was content. But he would end up living and dying in the same place. In a way, being content lead him to his demise as well.

For content mouse, that might work, but not for me. I, like the drowned mouse, am ambitious. But, I am content with the darkness. I have embraced it, a growing appreciation for it, because I know without the darkness, I can’t find the light.

Who knew some mice could teach me about life on some path in a tunnel. Was this part of the journey I’m supposed to have through the tunnel?

I thought again about the path that I was on, how narrow it was. If I didn’t keep my balance, I could fall towards the canal or hit my head against the wall. I could fall either way, so I need to watch myself.

Like the mice, I need to make sure I don’t fall into my ambitions or my contentness. I must find my balance to be able to continue along the path, literally and metaphorically.

The lesson I took from the mice was as follows.

::::::::To be content in life means that you could be fine sleeping against a brick wall. To be ambitious in life means that you could wander off to where no one has been. But, without finding a balance between the two, you will lead yourself to your own demise::::::::

As I approach the light at the end of the tunnel, the darkness starts to turn to light. I can see all the moss on the ceiling again, which is still awe-striking to me. My ambition is making my heart beat out of my chest. But I make sure to not be over ambitious though. So I stop, and pause for a moment.

Looking down, I see that the sun is shining right in front of my feet while I stand still in the shadow. Embracing the darkness for one last time, I turn around.

The light at the end of the tunnel looks so far away. I have reached the other side though. Taking a deep breath, soaking the darkness in one last time. I turn and let the light blind me. I must now become content with the light, and not too ambitious for the darkness once again.