Today’s dictionary.com “Word of the Day:” bugbear (n)
1. any source, real or imaginary, of needless fright or fear.
2. a persistent problem or source of annoyance.
3. Folklore . a goblin that eats up naughty children.
The word “bugbear” may help us distinguish “fear” and “worry” as two separate phenomenons that produce the same effect in the body: stress. Humans have a history of personifying anxiety as if to externalize and shrink it to a mere possibility as opposed to an all-comsuming, wrenching reality akin to Hell. Does that make it better, or worse?
Writer Joan Didion will be immortalized for having said that “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” John Milton empowered readers of Paradise Lost with the observation ringing with self-awareness that the mind “can make a Hell of Heaven, a Heaven of Hell.” Christianity attributes impure thoughts and behavior to Satan, which include the human being’s incapacity to control and ultimately detoxify (i.e. repent) the doings of a figure at odds with God. We are imprisoned, Michelangelo might say, if you’ll allow me to subtext the most captivating and outstanding sculptures of his career, The Slaves. Unlike the political strength and loyalty embodied by The David, The Slaves, originally commissioned for a tomb, seem to twist and contort their bodies out of their shackles and marble foundation, and up toward the heavens. Human existence is one part suffering, one part divine. The David celebrates human triumph, while the Slaves dance, in bondage, on the edge of this world and another.
An idea expressed may be broadly considered “art.” Any attempt to externalize a question (the seed of idea) is at the same time an effort to understand it. However, it is in our approach to the question where we find any semblance of solace or resolution. We do not answer questions to feel better, for there is an endless amount of questions, and we are simply ignorant in this human form to be able to answer without consulting a deity or doubting our existential purpose. However, curiosity, or the quest for knowledge, will answer. Get the question out there and let it do its thing. As we navigate this world with an open mind, one that is non-judgmental and adaptive to all currents of energy, whether they be positive or negative or undeterminable, we may separate the effects of a perceived threat from a real one; one that is in our faces versus one imagined. They feel different. An observant mind will note the difference and act accordingly, with passive effort. The balance of effort and ease will melt the wicked witch, dissolve the demon, and open a chasm between you and the source of irritation (needless!) so that you can ramble on. Live free!!!
…Yes, I was going there.