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Afraid to Live

Something has really stuck with me lately

It's the image of someone caught in the throes of anxiety who is tremulously monitoring their pulse

I used to do this

I can distinctly remember being at a beautiful restaurant where we were supposed to be celebrating Father's Day

I snuck off at different intervals to the bathroom because I was convinced that my heart rate was too high

I would nervously sit in the stall with my index finger pressed to the carotid artery in my neck

Counting beats

Terrified

Making my heartbeat skyrocket because of my vigilance

I know that this common fear in anxious people is related to a lot of cultural discourse around heart failure as a common cause of death

But, still there is something truly ironic around this fear

Because a fear of one's heartbeat is a fear of the greatest signal of being alive

The pulse is the greatest sign that the Universe is choosing YOU to be present and a part of its wild dance

Not only is the heartbeat a sign that the magic of the universe is miraculously continuing to animate the inanimate materials that make up your body

It's also a sign that you are doing something important or exciting

Sure, the heart rate increases in times of fear and threat

But it also increases when we're presented with an opportunity, a challenge, or something touches our spirit

So the anxious person who lies awake counting their heart beats and trying to achieve a state of low, steady pulse which is usually accompanied by low, even emotion

Is really seeking a state that is as close as possible to sleep or even death

To run away from an elevated heart rate is to run away from excitement, from opportunity, from adventure

I find this all really ironic, because at the core, the anxious person has erroneously learned that they are not equipped for life and that their thoughts offer a reliable guide for safety

They are, literally, afraid to live

It's a really shitty way to live

And I know, because I've lived it

What I want for me and for you is to let the pulse run wild (and then of course, eventually slow down)

I want to feel all the feelings

And face the raw, unpredictable wild of this life

Oddly enough, I (the real me) has never let me down

Unlike my thoughts, which always do

And all the thinking and the pulse feeling only ever got in the way

I want to LIVE

And I want that for you too




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