A few days ago, I wrote a post on ‘The Sunday Evening Blues.’ My purpose in writing that was to try to capture the nature of that evening’s particular mood, which over the years has acquired its own set of peculiar characteristics. In doing so, I was, of course, barely scratching the surface of a much broader issue, that of anxiety.
An anxiety is something insidious, more than just a mood; it is a fever and an occupation, an affliction and a constitution all at once. An anxiety is a lens with which to view the world, a coloration that grants the sufferer’s experiences their its distinctive hue. I refer to anxiety as I do–‘an anxiety’ suggests there is more than one– to emphasize it is not singular, that individual anxieties make up a sufferer’s full complement. An anxiety is a distinctive suite packaged for application to a particular situation of time, place, circumstance and connotation. These suites tap into a deeper, subterranean reservoir of quieter and darker undercurrents, brought forth in their manifold forms to the surface by times and peoples and objects, irritated and turbulent, seeping up, corroding as they go. Our arsenal of anxieties thus makes available a diverse battery of weapons for deployment. The anxiety manifest on Sunday evenings is one of these; it has been refined over the years, and has a distinct identity all its own. When it makes its appearance I almost greet it like an old friend. I can’t quite set my clock by it but it does have an hour of arrival that is its very own, one accompanied, especially in the winters, by a unique spectrum of colors of the day.
It may be that our anxieties interact and recombine—like viruses—to form newer ‘strains’ that course through us, surprising us with their ferocity and visceral feel. Their arrivals are unpleasant harbingers of gloom, an announcement that heralds a new arena of existential discomfort. They tell us too, that anxieties are fertile, capable of bringing forth newer versions, ever more novel imprints of themselves.
Anxieties are not impenetrable; sometimes a soothing surge of optimism, an ‘all will be well’ missive arrives from origins unknown. At that moment, the fog lifts, the burden eases, and for an instant, a giddiness makes its presence felt. The clarity of that moment is intensely pleasurable, so pronounced is the relief from the low-grade insidious chafing at the soul that had preceded it. The drooping shoulder isn’t any more; there is a slight spring in the step. And anxieties are not immortal either; some anxieties die out on their own, subdued by exposure to enough recalcitrant facts about a world to find at least one fear untenable. Finding no traction for their grasping at our selves, no hold in our hearts, they splutter and fade, ebbing away slowly and leaving only the mildest and lightest of traces, the faintest of marks on our psyches. Relief, yes, but always, a cautious one, for here hubris promises to be swiftly punished. Better to give a quiet thanks and press on, modestly hopeful.