Existential Angst

For years, I have been trying to narrow down what it is that makes me feel so miserable.
A psychiatrist who listened to me describe it
told me that it was called an existential crisis
and that there was no treatment for that.
Having lived with it for over 30 years
I wouldn’t call it a crisis anymore.
I would perhaps call it ” Chronic Existential Anxiety”

If I had to sum it up in as few words as I can , it would sound something like this.

I need a symbiotic relationship with my mentors

I really don’t intend to dismiss any of my family and friends when I say this.
I feel grateful to have them in my life.
But this is different
It is on the same level as religion.

Religious people, no matter how blessed they feel
about having family and friends that they love and who love them back,
do need to feel a sense of purpose , a sense of connection of a different sort.
They might find it in church or when they pray privately.
They might find it through some other kind of spiritual activity
but they need it.
Not everybody does of course —
(My husband certainly doesn’t)
but for those who do, it’s impossible to ignore.

Since I am not a religious or a spiritual person
(nor do I plan or want to be)
I have to find this somewhere else.

But in my case, there needs to be symbiology
rather than an hierarchical type of relationship .
I would like to be both leader and follower.
I want some sort of relationship with my mentors
that also validate my own assets and importance

Unknowingly at the time,
this is likely what prompted me to pursue a higher education.
It’s often misread as a form of intellectual snobbishness
but it’s not so.
I enjoy being inspired as much as I enjoy inspiring.
I enjoy learning as much as I enjoy teaching.
But I cannot find those kinds of relationships in my present environment
because the people who surround me do not have that type of curiosity, let alone expetise.
And that causes me to feel disconnected and alone
no matter how many people surround me.
Because it’s a different kind of disconnected and alone.

Of course I enjoy sharing intimate time with my family
and I feel so lucky when I have the privilege
of spending some time with a friend.
I value those moments very much.
But I have this gaping hole
that can not be filled , it seems, by anything else.

Going back to that short phrase

I need a symbiotic relationship with my mentors

Again, It’s strikes me (and perhaps you as odd) as odd
given that most people seek symbiotic relationships within their families and among their friends
but I cannot more find a way to fulfill this particular need among family and friends
than a person can replace a religious icon leader/adviser with a family member or friend.

My awe inspiring leaders come in many forms but for the most part
I have never met them and will never meet them
because I simply don’t live in those intellectual / artistic circles.

Reading Dr. Richard Dawkin’s auto bibliography yesterday
I was floored by the long list of people he rubs elbows with
not only scientists, but philosophers , writers and other intellectuals and artists.

I remember also descriptions of Christopher Hitchen’s dinners
which included some of the most fascinating people on this planet

I would be blissful just to work with them
let alone dine with them

I need these people in my life
not just in the form of print in my book
or pixels on my screen.
I need a true connection with them.

I know. I know.
It’s ludicrous.
Who am I to think that any of these people
could ever have any interest in me or use for me.
I am an ant and they are geants.
But my plan was to become one of them
in order to earn my place among them.

Few people get to live the life they planned on.
Most people don’t even come close.
We are all told that we need a Plan B and perhaps a C
I am on D and E
and even those are not panning out.
Meanwhile, I have a hole in my “soul” the size of Pluto
and nothing seems to fill it up.

Moreover
As I age, and become less appetizing physically
I feel like I couldn’t even interest them on THAT level.
We all seek people that we have physical chemistry with
as well as psychological or intellectual.
And as I age, I feel like even my most rudimentary assets
in my quest to interest people in me are taken away from me.
Not that I would want those relationship I seek to be based on physical attraction
but I sometimes hope that a physical attraction could bring people closer
so that I an then interest them in other aspects of me.

I remember in my younger years
when I read voraciously
that every minute I spent reading
any new concept I absorbed
was an investment in my professional future.
And that made it so exciting.

Later on
when I had the kids and it no longer seemed likely
that I would have a career
I would read to entertain myself.
I knew that I would probably never make use of what I was learning professionally
but I hoped it would at least make me an interesting conversationalist.
(assuming that people interested in those sorts of conversations would present themselves).
I would never me an expert at any of the topics a studies
but I could ask interesting questions and hold my on on some level.

Now when I read , it’s about escape.
A good book will let me forget my real life for 15 to 25 hours.
But when I put the book down,
It’s like an emotional hangover.
I ache to live in that book , among these authors.
Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris,
Micheal Shermer, Peter Singer, Bryan Fry
and so many others
who are my mentors, my leaders, — so close , so close
and yet so far.

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