As I get older, my anxieties become more complicated and threatening, but this doesn’t surprise me. The arrow of time stays true to its character, legacy, and cosmological purpose; the egg never reassembles itself after a terrific fall. Theoretically, no rules are broken, no conservation laws are neglected, and no symmetries are altered, but the arrow of time is sturdy.
The Ultimate Anxiety
Now I worry about work related stuff, and how I can give back to society, but I know all future roads lead to point zero. Eventually, I will be worrying about leaving Earth temporarily, and leaving my loved ones behind as I resign towards unconsciousness, and I will probably worry about whether I lived a fruitful life, worthy of heavenly rewards. The ultimate anxiety, that defines humans or animals, at least to the extent of our perception of them, is the knowledge that we will die, eventually. Whereas animals respond to the present circumstances and act on impulse, humans are addicted to memories and thoughts of people who are no longer with us. As we study history, the execution of our heroes, holocausts, world wars, tragic accidents, we are reminded of our own mortality, and that leaves us with questions that may affect how we perceive our present and react effectively to the problems within our reach.
A world full of doors
On the other hand, the former and latter paragraph are just distractions, or targeted filters if you may, to what I really want to say in this article. You see, we all have moments in our lives where the future is the least of our concerns. The world is ours; it is beautiful and carefree, filled not only with contemporary beauty, but the illusion of permanent artistry. The world is a banquet room of doors, unlocked, unhindered, and leads where the heart coincides with the brain. There was a time when I felt that mortality is the least of my concerns, and that I should use all of my time to figure out the combination lock that holds certain access to using my potentials to their fullest.
Indeed, there were times when my anxieties were the simplest for any grown man. For this matter, I want to share a specific scenario during my college days. It is accurate to say that I did not know death when I was a junior. At most, it was hidden at the back of my mind, constantly tapping at the periphery of my consciousness but always drowned by the louder thoughts of academics and other distractions. Ever so slowly, little increments of anxieties crept in, and they grabbed my attention at their infancy.
Khm the Tiger
So much for the hard talk, let’s begin with the easy talk. I was anxious at the smallest of things, and one of them was accidentally meeting Khm and not knowing what to do. I don’t really know her, and for the longest time I did not make a move to know her more. I was content that she was a stranger like the rest. On the other hand, she was like a tiger to me back then. No, she didn’t have a huge appetite, or a terrible personality. What I mean is that she registers in my brain as something, or someone, important. What do you do when a tiger approaches you? Your neurons fire rapid messages and your emotions soar higher than a Richter scale registering a massive earthquake. When a tiger is coming your way, you feel that that is the only important thing in the world.
That’s the same whenever I met Khm accidentally, or spotted her from the corner of my eye. Maybe not as much as a tiger would affect me, I wouldn’t drop my things at the sight of her, or stop at my tracks, or faint, but she would get 50, no 60 percent of my attention, leaving the other 40 percent to the control of my subconscious default nature. It starts off with 86 milliseconds of physical admiration, followed by 27.8 milliseconds of desire to go ahead and approach her, and succeeded by a brief, 60.4 millisecond realization that I will only make a fool of myself if I do.
Or that’s what my personal filter looks like. It didn’t help much that she was often alone, or in the company of a handful of people. My level of insecurity was really ridiculous then, but no one would believe me because I rarely showed it. It’s something that was rooted from deep within, sending out subtle manifestations to choice situations.
Facing my fear
I did manage to convince myself to face my fear. Besides, I simply wanted to be friends. I thought it would be really cool to be friends with someone I thought was really cool. However, I did not face my fear head on. I took the coward’s approach and sent her a Friendster friend request with a personal message, but hey, I don’t see her a lot so I thought this was a logical first move. I saw that she did really well writing her about me, so I made that as an excuse to write something in the message.
Making a new friend
The coolest thing in the world happened and she replied back to me, saying she doesn’t know me but that I deserve the chance to be friends with her. All my perceptions about her being a tiger dissolved instantly, and I heaved a sigh of relief. Now that we’re good friends, I look back at those silly times and laugh at my own, but only when no one’s looking. Still, I’m glad I made that tiny first step to get to know her more; else I would still be thinking about Khm and wondering how it would feel like to be her friend. I don’t have to wonder about that anymore, and in fact, Khm is a very good friend! She’s a very level-headed person, a bit introverted like me, and I’m not sure if we have a lot of things in common but I certainly respect her in many ways. I would have missed out on a lot of things had I not befriended her.
Certainly, the ultimate anxiety of facing death will be the central focus of what’s left of my life, but that will only arrive after I have conquered all the little anxieties that have shaped my character. That includes my little encounter with the tiger called Khm. (-: