About a year ago, Sarah Fader, a 37-year-old social media consultant in Brooklyn who has generalized anxiety disorder, texted a friend in Oregon about an impending visit, and when a quick response failed to materialize, she posted on Twitter to her 16,000-plus followers. “I don’t hear from my friend for a day — my thought, they don’t want to be my friend anymore,” she wrote, appending the hashtag #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike.
Thousands of people were soon offering up their own examples under the hashtag; some were retweeted more than 1,000 times. You might say Ms. Fader struck a nerve. “If you’re a human being living in 2017 and you’re not anxious,” she said on the telephone, “there’s something wrong with you.”
It was 70 years ago that the poet W. H. Auden published “The Age of Anxiety,” a six-part verse framing modern humankind’s condition over the course of more than 100 pages, and now it seems we are too rattled to even sit down and read something that long (or as the internet would say, tl;dr). (1)
We are slaves to our age. We have been taught that things need to be done now. And when they are not, we feel “anxious”. We are taught that the universe is in constant movement. So when things are not moving we feel “anxious”.
And yet the river is not moving.
Close your eyes and you will stop seeing it.
No, it is not a trick. You really do not see it.
But even with closed eyes the river is still there.
The truth is that you do see the river.
But long before you saw it…