I've had a lot coming at me from many directions lately. I've felt anxious. It's been hard to keep moving. I have an especially difficult time with interacting with people when I feel I owe them something.
The funny thing is that feeling anxious is probably a good sign, because the anxiety is spurring action. When I catch myself feeling this way, I write down the things I can do to help - small and large wins for the day, which can help my overall state of being by moving ahead.
I've been doing this sort of thing for years, but something different is happening: I'm getting through the lists. I'm tackling the tasks that trouble me, and slowly but surely, I'm knocking them down.
I don't always feel the exhilarating rush of progress that you're supposed to feel when you conquer your TODO list; mostly, I'm thinking about what's next. But I do rest a little easier in the knowledge that tomorrow will be slightly less scary.
A big part of this capacity for progress is knowing which way is up. For the first time in ages, I'm beginning to feel more confident about meeting my family's most basic needs. We have some good projects at work, and can finally see our way through the crushing debt and the daily grind of financial Tetris. I can start making plans.
But, on some level, "how am I going to survive the day?" is easy and safe. It's stressful as hell, but the stakes are known. Setting aside this game, and asking myself, "what am I going to do next?" results in anxiety.
There's the nontrivial identity shift from "survivor" to "architect of my own destiny." There's the guilt of everything I haven't done while I was distracted by my worries. There are unpaid debts, unmet commitments, and unexecuted plans that I had set aside because I didn't have the resources. And now, given the resources, where do I begin?
The best I can do is take each day as it comes. Feel the stress, and bend with that stress without letting it crush me. Stand tall, even when it feels like I'm faking it.
Image: Franconia Sculpture Park, September 2009