top of page
  • Writer's pictureeschaden

Willed Anxiety?

I never knew. How much my will was a cause and undercurrent for anxiety. Believing that I had power, that I never really did. Believing that I could change things with my mind, bend them, shape them, make them be to my approval and liking...

I just finished reading The House By The Sea by May Sarton. Good book, I have lots of pages dog eared. I do this to books, which even in my own mind feels almost sacrilegious. But as a writer, I hope that if I am ever able to put something out into the world, printed, touchable, holdable, that someone will find something I said, some conclusion I drew, some thought related to, and they will feel moved to overcome the reverence for the page and bend it down and fold it over, earmarking it to come back to later, at another time because whatever wisdom can be found on that page, is worthy of coming back to...

So there are many pages in this book that are so designated. For me, sometimes, it is a turn of phrase and particular piece of prose, some words when fashioned together make me think, feel, love, emote more deeply. And I love it when that happens. So much. I have journals that are filled with quotations - things that I read and copy down from magazines, articles, books, social media. A collection of thoughts that move me, change me, make my life richer and more insight driven.

What amazed me about Ms. Sarton’s book was how it was written in 1976 and it strikes me at how much the world has changed, and how much it hasn’t.

Towards the end of the book she quotes Anatole Broyard’s review of Leslie Farber’s new book which she does not name...

“Trying to will what cannot be willed, according to Mr. Farber, brings on anxiety, and this anxiety, in turn, cripples our other faculties so that we are left with nothing but anxiety about anxiety, a double unease. Among the things we try to will are happiness, creativity, love, sex, and immortality.”

Fuck. Guilty!

I never thought about self directed will quite like this before. Like it is this improper use of will that causes my own unhappiness and it is a total con job from start to finish because I am the one most injured by my own actions in this regard. All my will comes up with is to create anxiety about things I am trying to will into fruition...happiness, creativity, love, sex and never moves me closer to achieving any of the above. It is a endless loop that only, really, pushes me further from my goal.

Willing happiness has never really brought me happiness. And is most likely the cause of mine and several others unhappiness...

Willing creativity has only brought writer’s block or works that lack any kind of meritorious claim...

Willing love, well, that doesn’t fucking work at all. You cannot make someone else love you. It cannot be willed into existence, in my experience, you can only will submission, but never love.

Willing sex is a bit easier, so it would seem. You can assert your will and get compliance, but never anything lasting. You might get laid, but you likely won’t be happy with the results. Who you picked, how the sex went, is all likely to be maligned and unsatisfying in the end because sex, while cheaper and tossed about, is really only satisfying when there are two willing people who have taken the time to know each other well enough to know that sex is just another way for them to express how desperately they desire and want each other. Forcing will where sex is concerned only results in heartbreak, and often, criminal charges.

Willing immorality. Oh, we do it, all the time. Over and over again. We are pushed through all the channels to find some way to avoid our skin sagging, our bodies losing function, our hair from greying. We will all sorts of things but in the end, time always takes us for her own. We can will all we want but it is without purpose and effect in the final analysis.

So we strike out on all counts. Trying to will our lives where happiness, creativity, love, sex and immortality are concerned seems like such a waste of time. But we all do it. Repeatedly. And we still believe it is possible. We believe the two lies:

One lie tells us it is possible to will our way into all of these areas. And the second, most damaging lie, I think, is that we tell ourselves that is should be possible. Each lie, believed, allows us to move forward in our lives in everlasting ignorance believing that not only can we will happiness, creativity, love, sex and immortality into existence, that we also SHOULD be able to do this. So we are caught in a never ending loop that keeps us stuck forever with the idea that this willful conduct will lead us to someplace other than anxiety town. There are really many other places to go, but through our stubborn insistence, through my stubborn existence, I return time and time again to anxiety about anxiety all because I believe the two lies that I can will things into existence for myself and that I should be able to do so...

And so, the endless loop of anxiety about and because of anxiety perpetuates.

And I find myself wondering, just how to apply the will differently? How does one allow life to unfold without the will running amuck and forcing solutions that are not wills to fix, or create, or manage or control.

I am gonna have to get back to you on this one...

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page