Friday, May 27, 2005

rattling the cage

Every so often - about once every two or three months, I'd guess - I get the creeping crawlies. Anxiety is too clinical a word for this feeling; "anxiety" is medical, chemical, subject to the mediating influences of caffeine and the environment. That's not what I've got. I've the crawls, the screaming meemies, a dark night of the soul that, ignoring the laws of semantics, hunkers down and stays for days. I still go to work, brush my teeth, pay the bills, but it all happens a mere toehold away from the dark undertow of fear and restlessness that lurks blackly in the not-so-background, waiting for the slightest opportunity to drag me under.

It's come and gone my whole life, this tidal system of unease, and from longstanding familiarity I've learned to recognize its character, its habits, its leering, pointed face. I know that a series of dark, chilly days will set it off, as will the possibility of a major upcoming change - both of which may have been factors in this latest bout. I know that getting outdoors - walking around, listening to the birds and watching them (and the insects, and whatever else is out there) do their daily things will help take the worst of the edge off it. Playing music helps, too; the focus it requires gives meaning and structure to what would otherwise be random nervous energy. I also know that nothing really helps except time - slowly but inevitably, the beastly jumps will recede and a calmness approaching normality will return. It always does, though never as quickly as I'd like.

In the meantime, though, I have to keep going to work, keep brushing my teeth, keep paying the bills. The little elements of my daily routine are a comfort, albeit a small one, and they give me something to do with myself while I wait for the tide to recede, so I can stop climbing the walls, once again.