The Influence of Anxiety: Days One Hundred Sixty Five - One Hundred Seventy One

Harold Bloom, an eminent literary critic, has written many books of note, but one of his his most well-known texts is The Anxiety of Influence, a treatise that explores a creative problem faced by poets who are intimidated by the poets who have come before them.  Writers read and writers compete with all that has been already written.  As much as I love to read Cynthia Ozick or Bonnie Nazdam or Virginia Woolf, reading their work always makes me humble.  Humility does not help to get the job done.  Arrogance is the stuff that gets a novel written. Mr. Bloom spoke the unspoken when he explained the collision course of contempt and respect a writer must travel.  It occurs to me that the anxiety of influence is a problem for writers, but the influence of anxiety is a universal problem.

An illness may be debilitating, it may be painful, it may even be deadly, but the disease is just one portion of the crisis.  The other part is the anxiety that accompanies the illness and that anxiety may be just as crippling as the disease.  The same goes for just about any situation I can think of.  Writing an essay requires the concentration to write, yes, and also requires the writer to deal with the anxiety of meeting the deadline and being a proficient writer.  Hitting a golf ball requires a bit of skill, but mostly it requires the confidence to hit the damn ball down the fairway.  There is an element of anxiety to almost any situation and the influence of anxiety on us is powerful.

Meditation lessens the influence of anxiety.  Options become available, time expands, horizons broaden.   Harold  Bloom speaks of  "creative correction,"  a term that is well applied to meditation.  Meditation is as individual as the person who sits and in its magical way, allows us to creatively correct the course of our lives.