The anguish of will-less contemplation

Adesh Fr
3 min readSep 24
Photo by Tolga Ahmetler on Unsplash

It’s 7 am. It’s Sunday. I step out of the back door of my apartment onto the balcony and look at the vast orange hued sky. I know there’s a lake underneath but it’s blocked by the Salvation Army building. The seagulls fly with their ugly screech. I feel anxious. I look away. Away from the sky and at the street underneath. A black squirrel runs. It looks paranoid.

‘I haven’t felt anxious in a while but it’s back,’ I think. ‘I hadn’t felt anxiety inside my room with my wife, books, tea and food, or at work with people and machines. But I feel anxious now looking at the vast sky. It means it is nature that makes me anxious.’

This thought takes the anxiety away. But a counterargument brings it back: ‘But you didn’t feel anxious yesterday afternoon when you stepped out this way.’

I recall times when I have stepped outside during afternoons and evenings. I remember seeing people and cars. I remember looking at the sky conscious that there were people underneath, by the beach, near the water. With their cars, phones, desires.

‘So it must be nature and solitude,’ I think.

I try to validate that argument by looking for the opposite of nature and solitude. I find it: People.

I look at the empty street and then at the bus terminal to my right.

‘Yes, I need people now. It is people that I yearn. Lack of people makes me anxious.’

That thought takes the anxiety away. I congratulate myself on having discovered that and think of ways to celebrate it. I then get conscious of thinking.

‘Or maybe it is thoughts. You feel good now because you are thinking. You felt anxious looking at the sky because you didn’t think or do anything and let your thoughts drift. It is not nature or solitude, it is the act of thinking that anxiety relies on. With my family, books, tea and food, music, work with people and machines, there is always something to think. Something to do. In the early lonely morning view of the sky, there is no thinking and action. If you were to add some thought and action to your view — by taking a photo, by painting or writing a poetry , or by looking at the science of the sky’s color or air— you wouldn’t feel anxious. Nature and solitude got you anxious because you didn’t think, you had no will. You turned into a hopeless creature in front of nature’s might. This scared you. Will-less contemplation hurt you. With people you feel your will. You think. You feel you can do something and you do. You see the need to think and act. This takes the anxiety away.’

It’s 7: 33 am. It’s Sunday. I look at the orange hued vast sky from my window as I write this. I don’t feel anxious.

The will-less hurt themselves.