I dread all the time. Even when I forget what I am dreading, I feel some of it. I am dreading the future, at all times, just because it is the future. Mindfulness, living in the moment, meditation, a video game, a movie, reading, friends, television; these distract from the dread for only moments. When I lay down, sober, and try to force myself to sleep, dread is still there. When I sleep, dread manifests itself very clearly in my nightmares. When I wake up, dread is still there, loud and terrifying.
What am I dreading? What the hell is bothering me all the time? I live a great life, I love my family, I love my friends, I have money and food at all times, I have free time to do practically anything I want. I have medicine, I have therapy, I have lovers, I have showers. I get to go to school, I get to work out, I get to dress up, I get to watch tv. Some poor child in war-torn Syria, famished Zambia, polluted India has it worse than me. Their dread stares them right in the face, gnaws at their stomach, chokes them. I have clean air, celery, civil order.
So what am I dreading? I know what it is, it is not always a mystery. I dread my future, particularly my future grades and relationships, my future income and health. So much dread, in fact, that it has brought me close to death. What is wrong with me that I am so privileged and rich, with so many paths and opportunities before me, that I must medicate myself to halt attempts for suicide? It makes me feel guilty! Where did I go wrong, what makes me this selfish, why can’t I trade my life for one of the African children’s?
I can’t trade in my life for another, it is impossible. I have to think about this differently. Who else dreads like I do? Many people, as it turns out, dread. They dread more, in fact. They are anxious about everything. They are afraid of waiting in line, of beeping cars, of paperwork, of tall buildings, of failure, of minimalism, of meaninglessness, of loneliness, of everything. I am just like them, I hate money and signatures, I hate all the news reports and the traffic, I hate the power lines and the smoke, but I don’t do much about it. It cripples me, I stay in bed, and I hide. We both take the medicines, see our doctors, and it helps so much. It is not an escape though. I have not learned to love this.
With so many of us on anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-whatever pills, what can we do? The people in famished Africa don’t take them (not that they even have it available). How do they get by without killing themselves? Well, maybe it is civilization itself that has created this mess. After all, we only need to look at how Chinese suicide rates increased with its industrialization (google that, please, I am pretty sure it is true). What has civilized society brought to me to make me happy? I am horrified of bad grades, obsessed with and disgusted by money, always panicking about my future. I want to love nature, but how much can I love it when I know it is so close to death? How can I escape society and join the forest when there is so little left?
I often wonder if civilization was the problem, would I be happy to return to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle? It seems unanswerable. There is no tribe I can join that isn’t simply a spectacle for us modern folk (That tribe in Brazil, who use bullet ants as a rite of passage. Not thank you). I can go camping, live off the grid, but how many of my friends and family will I isolate by doing that? Even so, am I even capable of doing that? Will my foggy memory of boy scout wilderness knowledge keep me going? Even so, how long will my adventures in the forest last until it gets clear-cut and paved? Dread is setting in, I feel almost trapped.
I am very thankful for everything I have, especially my medicine and food, especially floss and air-conditioning. It pretty much stops there, though. What good is this system, if the price of technology is happiness? What good is this system, if it is killing the world and myself? How far will it go before the medicine loses its effectiveness and the land cannot produce enough food for our exploding numbers?
Dread dread dread, it is so hard to be optimistic, holy shit.
The only thing that brings me comfort is what I know. I know that it has to be this way, I know that the universe almost pre-ordained this. But that only goes so far, before dread comes back up, mutes my reasoning. I don’t want to be a sad-sack, but I would be foolish not to.
[EDIT] It has been a little 3 hours since I wrote this and I feel fine now.