On Anxiety

Before leaning back in my chair to write this, I punched a piece of Spry gum from its tinfoil package. This gesture speaks to the title of this piece and to the paradoxical release from anxiety that I experienced today. I am relaxed, aware, able to think about what I want to convey. What rescued me today was my awareness. By 7:00 am this morning, my chest and throat had tightened and my attention narrowed to a specific bodily concern. I noticed how I was feeling and named the anxiety. I then began to list each thing and to say, this is generalized anxiety. Skin cancer, bone disease, traffic, being with people all day, the loss of an assistant, needing to be in a calm state to respond to the myriad of unpredictable incidents that might arise in the next eight to ten hours, not having time to process, not having time to get to the root of the anxiety, not having time to write this. Instead, as I apologized to my partner for spewing all over her morning, I thought to myself, bring it on! Bring on the rapid heartbeat, the racing thoughts, the fatigue. Bring on the anxiety. I fear many things, but I do not fear you. In retrospect, as I think about how I got through the day, how I was eventually able to sink into the flow of interactions that ran non-stop, as I was able to respond to incidents as they arose, I realize what liberated me was not getting to the root of the anxiety. What liberated me was awareness, listing, feeling, facing. The anxiety pressed into my day and pressed me into a different level of being.

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