Monday, November 4, 2013

The Toll of the Unringable Bell

You couldn't say how much it hurt you
And I couldn't see the damage I'd done
'Til I watched the greatest love I've known
All come down to a slip of the tongue....
-John Hiatt

Panic will kill you.  And not merely in the way you might think I mean.  Sure, one can die from a panic attack but panic can get at you, to you and through you in too many other ways to count.  But only if you allow it to do so. 

It may be the worst emotion of them all if for no other reason than it is an integral part of so many others.  It has its roots in a lot of them - such as rage, frustration and - perhaps most of all - fear.  It is also the most wasteful emotion of them all I think.  The time and energy expended in panic does absolutely nothing to resolve whatever the issue or problem was that resulted in its appearance.  Problems do not disappear upon panic's arrival.  It is as much of an elixir for a problem as closing one's eyes, which is to say it is not much of one at all. 

Worst of all, not only does it possess exactly zero curative properties it is a paralytic.  Panic freezes a person - renders him or her incapable of movement and robs him or her of the ability to think and the ability to reason.  It can be all-consuming.  

I have my faults - too many to count truth be told.  However one strength I possess is the innate refusal to succumb to panic.  It is simply not an emotion upon which I waste any of my time.   The credit for my ability to keep my head even as the roof is caving in around me rests with my mother.  My father died in my parents' bed when I was fourteen years old.  He earned more than 80% of our family income.  He died intestate and because of his heart condition without life insurance.  All of a sudden, we were in very deep shit.  I knew it and I knew for certain that Mom knew it.  I presume that she went to bed every night and arose every morning frightened.  I know I did.  In spite of her fear, she never wavered.  She never faltered.  Times were tough but she made sure that I knew we were going to make it - even if she had any reservations about the likelihood of our success.  She refused to panic.  I followed suit.  The center held.  We survived. 

Panic and fear are not interchangeable.  Fear is healthy - in controlled doses.  Panic never is.  One has to recognize that a surefire way to prevent fear from mushrooming into panic is simply to discuss with those you love the most what it is that scares you.  You might be surprised to learn that your fears are not solely your own.  And when you realize that you really are not alone in your effort to confront and to conquer - if possible - the situation that is causing you such grave distress, you will likely notice that your anxiety level has gone down at least a little. 

The great John Hiatt once observed rather famously, "Time is short and here's the damn thing about it.  You're gonna die, gonna die for sure.  You can learn to live with love or without it.  But there ain't no cure...." Once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.  There is no Professor Peabody.  There is no WABAC Machine.  Give not one more moment away to panic.  For panic now leads directly to regret later.  A life filled with regret is not a life.  It is merely an existence. 

You deserve better.  So do the people who love you and the people who you love.  Do not allow panic to cripple you or worse yet to own you.  Do not, in panic, ring the bell that cannot be unrung and whose tolling will echo in your ears for the rest of your life.  

An empty house
Is the only thing standin'
Between our lives
And the speed of sound

Some words flew out
And made a crash landin'
No love survived
Not a trace could be found

I broke your heart
With the back of my mind
From the tip of my tongue
To the end of the line....



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