The cone of Anxiety

It was another one of the days of chasing the deadlines. The misses of the previous dates were accumulating into an astronomical wave. The baggage of the ‘Could Nots’ was weighing me down as much as the expectancy of the exit through this competitive tunnel.

The meeting tomorrow was a make or break one. I had heard myself saying this before, but this one seemed more real than the real.

My mind worked simultaneously on the multiple possibilities and worst case scenarios while remembering the previous mistakes from which I seldom learned. My thoughts,  while flipping between the two divergent ends of past and future, seldom rested on the presentation at hand. It was lonely and restless for the head that wears the crown. I was heading the marketing for the largest region in India. With great powers, I realised comes much greater responsibility. And the HR at the head office had knowingly skewed the ratio,  far in favour of the responsibility vis-a-vis the power.

I had many things to prove.

The disapproving look and the dismissive attitude of the CEO wasn’t something which escaped my empathetic eyes and the eyes of the competitive compatriots. They waited for the fall. I hung on to the cliff edge with my nails. In times such as these, even the shadow wasn’t part of the inner circle of my trust. I couldn’t rely on any one else. I had to do it myself. One thing that many of them wanted to share, and I was not letting it be shared was – The Credit.

So I remained glued to my PC in my lonely cell. The radiating illumination from my PC escaped my cabin into the dark vacant office space outside. The same office space was to transform itself into the battle space – the Kurukshetra, where my battle of survival would be raged tomorrow. The battle was part of the endless war I fought in the bid to stake my claim of existence. It formed part of the war which I raged with myself and my many contradictory roles jostling for the same click of the needle in the turning clock.

I had made my choices well, as I moved up the ladder of success.

The doting father, the romantic husband, the dutiful son and the fun-loving-butt-slapping friend were put on the waiting list as the deligent bullock went round and round turning the wheel of time. I was racing against the time. I perpetualy remained two moments behind, slowed by the baggage of the past and pushed back by the incapacitating dread of the impending future. There was so much at stake.

I flipped the hour glass over. The ritual of keeping time was being repeated. The hour glass remained the measure of time as I moved from the expectant past to an uncertain future. In this state of distress the senses were at highest state of perception, ready for the fight of flight eventuality. In this state of heightened sensory state, I noticed the sand slip down. Time moved forward.

The sand slipped in a heap at the bottom. Each grain of salt jostling with the other to cross the stem of the time. The narrow stem of the hour glass differentiates between the space above filled with sand at the beginning of the time with the eventual resting place of the sands of time at the bottom.

The benign hour glass was silently trying to tell a sacred wisdom as it emptied it’s last grain of sand into its eventual resting space. It waited to start the same cycle once more. Move the grains of sand from the upper past space to the lower future space. The combative competition keeps getting repeated in an cruel cycle. The stem dividing the past from the future. In the rush of the grains through the stem, the moments pass. The time moves a notch as each grain moves through the stem. That place in the stem is… the moment. Unnoticed, it goes through the fog of the worry. Remembered, only on either bulging sides. The worry and urgency of squeezing through and reaching the other side misses the experience of the moment.

I looked up at the pendulum as it struck midnight. It moved back and forth, back and forth…past and future. Between the swings from the past to the future, I observed, it missed the present. Swinging…swinging…perpetually in motion. As the pendulum rises from the nadir of the swing towards the zenith, the urge to return back to the nadir increases. It pauses at the zenith temporarily only to race back. However, as it races back to the place it seeks to be, the very same rush takes it helplessly past it. Never able to pause even for a moment at the moment. It moves rapidly past it towards the next high. And the cycle continues as it chases time.

Like the grain of sand, the pendulum remains precise in keeping the time interval.  However, missing the sweet spot of the moment while flitting between the regrets of the past and the worries of the future. Always anxious to move to the other side. Like the grain of sand, existing either at the top or the bottom of the cone of anxiety.

I realise we also live trapped in a similar Cone of Anxiety. Proudly carrying the cross of the privilege granted to the wise humans. The privilege of remembering the past and to imagine the future. These form the bulging sides of the cones – The cone of the future and the cone of the past. The cones intersect at the moment – the narrow stem of the hour glass. As we move into the cone of the past we are engulfed with the gloom of regret. The future cone floods our minds with the worry of imagined scenarios. As my mind moves back and forth in this cone of anxiety, I am a co-sinner with the pendulum and the grain of sand. I commit the similar unpardonable sin…I miss the moment.

I grabbed the pendulum to a pause. I placed the hour glass on its side. They resisted for a while, till the string no longer pulled, till the grains settled in stupefied motionless state. The clarity occurred. The realisation dawned. Now is the only truth. The past is merely my flawed interpretation of event that already occurred. The future is a only an abstract speculation. The only truth is in the Now. Everywhere in the cone is the source of anxiety. There is no anxiety of judgement in present moment as it lies in the future. There is no worry in the present moment as it is left behind in the past. The moment of now is pure and unsullied.

The realisation of the moment cleared the mind of worries and regrets. The vacuum created was soon filled by clarity of thoughts.

As the illuminating screen of the PC shut down, I felt radiant and sure. The past would not be allowed to sully my present. The future would not be allowed to steal the moment

I would live pure.

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