The muscle under my left eye jerks every few seconds. My heart always seems to flutter the slightest bit too fast. I have a habit of nervous itching.
I am anxious. I’m an anxious person. And I’m not alone.
The whole world seems to be just as on edge. And maybe the rest of the world doesn’t have fainting spells or anxiety-induced stomach cramps, but I can sense the tension either way. Because things aren’t great right now. Wars are happening and the environment is on a fast track straight to hell and that whole thing where the economy sucks and people are being oppressed all over and what even is the job market right now?
The world is stressing hard. It’s not fun. It makes my mouth dry. But maybe it isn’t such a bad thing. As someone who stresses like she’s getting paid for it, I know it doesn’t feel good. But I also know what it can do.
Stress is powerful. It’s inspirational. It’s the purest artistic fuel.
There are plenty of people who would agree with me. Gertrude Stein. Ezra Pound. e. e. cummings. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway. There is an entire generation of Lost people who have been through this shit. They fought a war with the entire world and stopped trusting their government to make things better and they gave up on hoping. But they also made arguably some of the best artifacts of this culture.
That generation is telling us that we don’t have to keep our chins up, but we need to keep our fingers open. Open and holding onto a pen or brush or camera or saxophone or something that can funnel all of this frantic desperate dissatisfaction and fear into some kind of pretty.
Personally, I know that I can take all the hot showers I want, listen to all the soothing music I desire, do all the yoga I can, but nothing is going to make me feel like a human again until I compress it all into a poem or until I spread it out in oil paint on paper or until I scream it at an audience from a stage. I’m not going to feel better until I make it into something worth looking at.
So yes, things are bad right now, but I have an optimistic prediction:
I think all this anxious friction from all over the world is going to start a fire. I think the world is going to absolutely burn up with art. I think that soon, people are going to have to just get it all off of their suffocating chests. I think we are going to have some real quality stuff: music and movies and books and poetry and sculptures and dances. I think all this ugly is going to give us all kinds of beautiful.
Maybe things will suddenly ease up now that the election is over. Maybe the muscles under the left eyes of America will settle down now. Maybe heart rates the world over will abruptly regulate and everyone will calmly work towards diplomatic solutions to our problems. Probably not.
But if they don’t, maybe that won’t be so bad. Because maybe that means we will have a lot of beautiful to look forward to.
About the Author (Author Profile)Lily is a sophomore journalism major-English minor who thinks words are the best thing since ever. She is from the South Carolina coast, which she encourages you to visit sometime because she promises they will be so hospitable to you there. She likes writing, acting, and Ira Glass from NPR's This American Life.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Characters in Search of a Plot | Culture Shock | May 28, 2013