it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken
matociquala

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The heart rebels against the mind / I swear to God I'll win this time

I am thinking about joy. Specifically, I am thinking about how joy is something I've learned, something I've had to train myself to. This week's bout with chemically-induced generalized anxiety disorder has brought home something I'd forgotten--how it felt to be viscerally miserable all the time, tense and unhappy and physically ill and unable to stop fretting over and over and over all of life's myriad little problems, like a mouse running on a wheel.

I've somehow found a way out of that, and the revisitation was unwelcome. Being stressed and anxious doesn't feel good.

What was odd and new was how clearheaded I was about it. I knew it was stress, and it was physical, and it wasn't my true emotional state, but a chemical reaction, but I couldn't set it aside. It was distracting, a nagging presence that didn't want me doing anything else--except watching the hamsters run on the wheel. Whirr whirr whirr.

Once upon a time, I thought I wanted serenity, unflappability. I worked very hard to get that, to bring myself to a level keel.

Last night, when the anxiety broke, and I felt myself again, I realized something. What I wanted wasn't serenity. It was comfort, physical and emotional comfort. Not to feel awful and sick and stressed. I wanted joy, where joy is defined as, taking pleasure in what there is to take pleasure in, and dealing with the rest as best as possible.

It was a very practical revelation, and it made me feel much better. But I'm not sure I can claim to be a Buddhist any more, even a bad one (Erisianism is a form of Zen. No, really.) because I'm no longer all that interested in getting off the wheel. Mitigating suffering, however--that, I can get behind. Choosing joy. Because it is a choice. The chemicals can make me feel awful, but I'm also smart enough to know it's the chemicals doing it, and endure and mitigate it, the way I would a head cold or a sprained ankle.

I'm back to feeling a little stressed this morning, but not the twisting weasel of anxiety in my chest. I think I'll go do some yoga and see how that helps.

***

The New York Times's Literary Map of Manhattan

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kristine_smith is evil

***

John Scalzi and wild_irises present differing and detailed views on the fine art of panel moderation: where there's a whip, there's a way. (I suspect I'm the "fairly new writer of military SF" mentioned. Which is more than fair, I suppose, although I don't really think of those books as military SF, unless that means "they have people in them who are in the military." I'm not sure where the "admittedly hasn't thought much about women and the draft" comment came from, though, but charging to the defense of my slightly bruised ego is outside the scope of discussion over there--so I'll do it over here! Bwa ha ha!)

ob. peanut gallery: I've never seen scalzi moderate. I suspect, from watching him manage large groups of people, he'd be good at it. wild_irises, however, was one of the two best panel moderators I dealt with this last convention.

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The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any
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--Russell Baker

Oh, if only. Clever, but for me, and for most writers I know, patently untrue. I mean, writing is fun. I love it. Even when it's kicking my ass, it's the best job in the world.

But it's harder work than anything else I've ever done, and the best part is, your mistakes never go away! Ever!
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