I have never not been anxious.
It was so much worse when I was younger. Academics, olympiad competitions, getting into college and then during college, after college, before job, during job, after job, before relationship, during relationship, after relationship....
I would scream at myself when things got too much.
“Does this EVER stop?”
So at some point during all this, I decided enough was enough and began to examine, study, explore all about “anxiety”.
I was desperate and exhausted, which fueled my commitment to once and for all uncover the root cause of my and humanity’s anxiety. I was so anxious to not be anxious anymore.
From countless modern best sellers to going back all the way to 1950’s publication “The meaning of Anxiety” by Rollo May to Bertrand Russell's “The conquest of Happiness”, I read, underlined, and watched as many as I could on related topics.
As piles of my reading materials grew, I really did become less anxious, which seemed strange given that my career and life were all taking me to more unpredictable and uncontrollable situations.
And while this piece could go on for pages after pages about why and how it all happened, this beautiful illustration dawned upon my life just last week, as if it had been waiting for me.
This beautiful artwork carefully printed on a page of woman’s magazine called WOMANKIND, with a caption that read: “Wanderer: the art of long-lasting journey”
Suddenly, I saw myself looking up at the vast horizon of the starry night sky with magical layers of light, feeling the cool desert breeze on my cheeks and hair, wrapped up in a blanket.
I was her. We are all her.
We are all nomads in this life, a life that is transient, unpredictable, and unstable. Our mortal, finite lives are in the hands of the infinite Universe. It is no wonder I, we, are constantly searching for and struggling to figure out how to feel just a bit more settled because from our deepest core, we are all too aware of the fact that we are destined to be perpetual wanderers. It is also the reason that we spend our entire lives seeking and forming meaningful connections, recognition, love and acceptance with and from others. We want to feel settled, truly.
Every day we are trying to build better tents to shield our mind and body from wild beasts, find better food source to last through the rainy days, secure the warmth and light to make us feel protected and loved because deep down we know that we might have to pack up and leave this place, this job, this relationship, this family any day from now.
But we are all too scared to face these facts so when the buried truth surfaces, shaking the ground beneath the anxiety hits us like a desert storm, swirling, shaking, throwing off everything we had earned over the years. Settled, barely.
The storms will never stop coming. We are destined to always be unsettled and nomadic.
So what can we do?
Well, when these uncertainties strike the storm, I have decided to be at the eye of the storm. I do my best to go straight to the center to see why it started, how it is spinning, and where it is headed. At times, I can better prepare. Other times, I let the storm do its work because sometimes we need it to not only clear the ground to make room for new things but also to serve as an indelible reminder for us to better hinge on the important things if we don’t want to lose them again to the storm.
So to the question I posed when I began this quest, ‘does this ever, ever stop?’
Paulo Coelho came beckoning with a wonderful closing:
“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment.
It is a little parenthesis in eternity (my dearest travelers).”