Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Losing anchors

I woke up this morning feeling anxious -- not surprising, since I went to bed last night feeling anxious.  I could easily attribute that feeling to some bodily concerns -- I'd lost a lot of sleep the night before, and hadn't been eating a particularly well-balanced diet for the last couple of days.

I could also attribute the problem to re-entry issues: I'd been away on a retreat for a week, and as is often true, it's taking a while to get caught up -- I still haven't unpacked my suitcase -- and that creates a certain amount of pressure.

But I'm also aware that all those things are simply compounding the base problem, which is that I won a role in a play, a lovely role, in a lovely play, and I'm worried I may be in over my head.  It's the largest role I've ever had, more dialogue than monologue, with a very short rehearsal span -- which I exacerbated by going away for a week and refusing to take my script with me.

Knowing all this, I looked forward to my morning's meditation period, knowing it would help me return to center, stabilize, trust, and get to the root of things.  Which it did; I feel much better now.  But I'm also realizing that the anxiety is an ego issue.  My identity has always been tied up in my intelligence, and the fear that my brain may no longer be functional enough to contain, remember, and deliver all these lines --  that's a hard one.  I'm terrified of letting people down, of screwing up, of suddenly being perceived as old, as "past it."  Who am I, if I cannot be trusted to learn my lines?

Part of conscious aging is coming to see  -- and often learning to let go -- all the self-concepts that have anchored us over the years. Whatever they might be -- I am bright, I am funny, I am creative, I am beautiful, I am quirky, I am strong, I am athletic, I am religious, I am playful, I am slim, I am healthy -- whatever your notion of who you are, you may need to abandon it with time, or see it yanked out from under you.

And so, when you find yourself floating free: who are you then, and where does your value lie? If you're lucky, you can find new joy in that buoyancy.  But if not -- I suspect it could be all too easy to drown in all that free-floating anxiety...

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