Existential anxiety is living with the condition of fear, worry, or even dread, for being constantly faced with the big questions of life like, “Why am I alive?” and “Who am I?” and “What is life?” What can seem as an implosion of the self (chaos’ reign), can easily be turned into something very healthy and productive (creativity’s reign).
We can live with and even thrive through existential anxiety.
First of all, we need to acknowledge that such enquiry is an intense spiritual curiosity afforded few in this world, and very often to this world the most intense of personalities whom have complexities of character marking them as special people. Instead of seeing it as a bane, we are invited into considering ourselves as especially blessed by God to plumb the depths of the psyche, to search our heart, and even to know our own soul – as well as to accept the mysteries of life as just that, mysteries.
Secondly, we can see that what we have seen as a negative is turned into a positive through the practical application of an art form. God made us to wonder about the big questions perhaps to inspire others to be equally intrigued, not that we would ever coerce anybody into dealing with the anxiety we have had to bear. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is not educational. Turning such a thing as we call the problem into a solution requires of us the ability to identify what it is God has put us here for; which brings us back to the original problem.
We must continue to search and to not give up before we find it.
Thirdly, seeing it as a gift means we must see what we suffer as an investment. Suffering is nothing to resent or disdain. What we can bear we can find pleasing. But we need to get used to it, because upon acceptance that which we suffer becomes something that truly sets us apart from the world. Perhaps we have long sought to distance ourselves from the world; now is our opportunity; now we can be the eccentric, having turned a negative into a positive.
Fourthly, living with existential anxiety is the fuller experience of life, so how could we rightly despise it? We must build our courage as well as the scope to laugh. Let us not be so serious all the time. Let us allow the ebb and flow of serious and light moments. But still holding on to the deeper questions, we are divesting our unconscious minds so they can work all the time.
Ignorance may be bliss, but it is not educational. Asking the big questions of life may involve anxiety, but at least we have the faculty of God (mind, heart, and soul) interested in the things of God. Existential anxiety can improve us.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.