Stop pushing Fast Forward and live life to the fullest. (J)
J wrote this journal entry on Panic Attacks, which he and I have both had throughout the years (although thankfully not in a very long time for me).
Freshman year was certainly stressful. So many strangers. Will I get to class on time? Will I forget my locker combination? Will I get beat up? Will I fail? But it was Sophomore year that the panic attacks began. Anxiety was such a habit and boredom such a fear that imagination took over as a simple “what if” thought with an ounce of apprehension and it multiplied into several tons over the coming years. The fear was that if I was in any room without windows and just perhaps the building or the earth had separated and we were really flying in space or the world was crumbling and I might be eternally falling or rising into oblivion. And without those windows I wouldn’t know and if I didn’t know, then it could be happening. I felt trapped and of course most of the classrooms at our high school have no outside windows!…
I think one of the things about panic attacks besides the physical symptoms that sometimes spring “out of nowhere” is the ongoing “what if”. What if I am dying this time? What if I can’t do this job and I get fired? What if this relationship fails and I never meet anyone again? What if meteors fall on me? What if my cat when playfully scratching me transfers deadly bacteria and my arm has to be amputated? What if this stomach ache I have is a sign of an intestinal blockage, like the one that killed my grandmother? (Many of my personal “what ifs” that made me panic were related to fear of health disorders).
But it is this jumping into a frightening future that increases the fear. Whether living life now to savor an enjoyable moment or being able to tell yourself “you are okay RIGHT NOW so don’t worry”, it helps to live in the present. I read something recently (it might have been Donald Miller) that spoke of how fear is all about the future: you fear falling BEFORE you fall and when you are falling what you fear is landing. So true.
So how about just for today, as all of the wise sages say, live in the moment. Take care of now. This is not to say that you do not plan for or anticipate the future, but that the majority of your focus should be on THIS moment, which will not come again. Do not fast forward past it and miss all its subtle nuances and melody.