Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The definition of angst...

Early on in my blogging days (many moons ago...or at least one...) I mentioned that I would find a definition of "angst" and bring it forth because, as most of you who know me personally are well aware, angst and I go hand in hand.

Well - I finally came across a great definition of angst in my "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life" book and I decided to keep my blog promises and post it here. At first the definition kind of depressed me because it seemed so inevitable - as if angst had to be a part of our lives. But then I realized that if I accepted this definition - it meant I wasn't as crazy as I thought I was! (And that is always excellent news.)

"Angst is the German word for anticipatory anxiety or dread that accompanies the human condition because the threat of annihilation is palpable and present from our first to our last breath. Our fragile estate floats over a great abyss, and no matter how diverting our strategies may be, there is no day in which we do not know this simple fact. An acceptance of this angst as normal is healthy; its denial is pathological, and will sooner or later result in some life-estranging behavior, or worse, the trivialization of the journey. The task brought to us is to live our lives fully, in the presence of the threat of annihilation."

Sounds pretty intense, right? But I really like the message of this book - which is that we're not failures as humans if we are sad, or anxious or even if we fail. (Because we will, of course.) We are supposed to LIVE and LEARN. When we have negative feelings, we're supposed to experience them - not cover them or hide from them. What a challenge but it's so freeing to hear the message that we are not failures if we are sad or if we aren't sure what to do.

In short - I can't recommend this book enough. Although I borrowed it, and need to return it to my BRILLIANT sister-in-law, I will be buying my own copy. I'll leave you with one more quote, which really touched me:

"...the goal of life is not happiness but meaning....Life is not a problem to be solved, finally, but a series of engagements with the cosmos in which we are asked to live as fully as we can manage."

Oh - and on that note - I did write my grandmother. Thanks for the moral support.

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