Monday, July 29, 2013


I've been reading articles about anxiety lately--nothing authoritative or definitive or diagnostic or anything like that. Just people writing for newspapers and the web about anxiety. It seems to be the affliction of the age.

What I remember from one article was someone saying that the cure for anxiety was realizing that you can handle all those things you think you can't. Not much comfort there, if that's the big secret. But it's probably the truth. You get to the actual thing, and whaddaya know, you handle it. Because there really aren't a lot of other choices. But I find I fret and funk over things that are on the horizon--things that I have no choice but to live through.

Long ago I was in a stage production of Edgar Lee Masters's "Spoon River Anthology"--lots of characters telling about their lives from the graveyard of a small town. I didn't perform "Lucinda Matlock," but it was one of the upbeat, inspiring poems that showed up toward the end of the show,and it was beautifullly spoken by an older actress (well, older than me) who radiated joy and gentleness and ferocity too. You can read the whole thing here. It tells the story of the woman's long life, full of happiness, troubles, and small pleasures. Lucinda ends with this:
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,  20
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.

Those last two lines have stuck with me, as a challenge, but also as something I puzzle over. That  Life—what makes it deserving of a capital letter? It's kind of a cheap solution on the poet's part--capitalizing the word and creating a little aphorism, instead of thinking of something more original. Though perhaps that is how is the character of this hard-working woman would put it, to her grandchildren and neighbors and others who complained: "Ach! Life is too strong for you. You have to live your life in order to love it."

So maybe anxiety is the affliction of this age because we live so much of our life at a distance from what's real. Too much screen time, too much time alone in cars and at desks. Too much thinking about how cold the lake water is. Not enough time riding the waves.


Anonymous said...

Gwen, I just saw the notes in Seussical pointing to this blog. I've been reading your blog, and am moved by your words. Thank you. Beth Schmidt

Gwen Gotsch said...

Thanks for looking me up and reading!