Most weekday mornings, I go for a short swim at a community college pool near my home. Swimming has become for me a meditation not unlike that of writing, singing, or practicing yoga asana and pranayama; however, swimming has the added benefit of regular aerobic movement, which offers a temporary respite for my irrational negative body image and helps to assuage the bubbling anxiety that I experience on a fairly regular basis.
Do you feel the anxiety and melancholia rising in your own body as well? These days in particular, the more I listen to the news on NPR or read something online, the more out of balance and irrational the fear and panic I experience.
This morning, I walked down the hallway toward the women’s locker room. On my way, I passed a tall white single male. I smiled, but he did not make eye contact.
What was he doing there? I wondered. Immediately, I started to envision scenarios where a shooter would come into the pool area and open fire. How would I escape? I imagined myself hauling ass out of the pool and running down the road until I arrived at the library where my beloved worked. What about my car keys and cell phone tucked snuggly away in my locker? There wasn’t time to get them. I simply had to get out.
Once in the pool, the motion of the water and my body moving with it helped to soothe these visions.
As I left the locker room and began my return trip down the same hallway, I saw the young man in an office, meeting with one of the faculty. He was just another young person finding his way in an oft-unforgiving world. Perhaps, he had not made eye contact because he was struggling with his own irrational fears of being valued and loved by his academic guides and beyond.
So what to do with these fears? Tucking them away does not seem to ameliorate the problem. I feel that I am living in a world that is shrinking while succumbing to the rising tides of fear and violence. If the moon dictates the rising, as well as the falling tide, what then can I do to draw back this tide I bear witness to each and everyday yet feel helpless to curb or control?
I’m afraid I do not have the answer. I know that the world will go on, with or without us. This morning, I think that I will begin by picking up an instrument and singing the pain from inside, transforming it into something beautiful on its way out.