Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – October 30, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – October 30, 2004 – After the day I had yesterday, I had good reason to question my sanity. However after a mildly successful sleep last night, I was up and out the door early this morning to run some errands. I met clients at eleven o’clock near Roncesvalles to see houses and finished up with them about three in the afternoon. Then it was home to look after Augie and Ziggy, before going to the ROM with a friend to see the “Pearls” exhibit.
This is a retrospective on pearls from around the world. I’ve heard nothing but praise about the show so I was looking forward to seeing it. The big problem for me of course is that it’s in a public place and I hate going out where I may see people I know, or even those with whom I’m not acquainted. You can see that this is problematic as it means all humans. That’s right folks. My anxiety level shoots up to the sky and I feel trapped, exposed, vulnerable and frightened. But I’m going anyway!
We left at four o’clock sharp and had Karma on our side and parked just outside the building. The exhibit was beautifully showcased with very subdued lighting which allowed the displays to stand out in stark contrast. Pearls exist in exquisite iridescent colours of cream, white, pink, black, blue and gold and in all shapes and sizes. Freshwater pearls, seed pearls and cultured ones were part of the display. The pearls adorned headdresses, tiaras, gowns, vestments, crowns, hats and scarves. There were Asian, Chinese, American and English items on loan for the occasion and the earrings, chokers, bracelets, strands of pearls and broaches were exquisite.
A well-scripted video explained the production of the pearls and miniatures showed the growing and harvesting of the pearls. There was a steady stream of people in the room, but it was by no means crowded, and children were at a minimum. I think I counted two, and both were well behaved and quiet. Four o’clock on a Saturday may well be an exceptional time to visit the ROM.
We spent about an hour and a half at the display and then wandered around the lobby looking at rocks, great carved Buddhas, armour, swords and helmets until closing time at six o’clock. I was back home by six fifteen and it was a very enjoyable break in the day. I need to do things like this more often.
It wasn’t as stressful as I’d expected it to be. That’s the thing about anticipatory anxiety, it stops me from doing all sorts of things I’d like to do. When I finally get up the nerve to confront its hold over me, it’s never as bad as I believe it will be. I always have a level of discomfort around people, but just as I’ve challenged other issues – I will face this one as well. You may be thinking “what a wimp – what is a bit of anxiety? But it doesn’t work that way. A full blown panic attack is a a thing to behold and anxiety has the power to cripple a life. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines “afraid” – for far too long.
There are shows, exhibits, operas, symphonies, ballets and theatre productions that I want to start attending. Perhaps after this year of writing is complete, I’ll have a bi-weekly outing as my challenge for 2005. Who knows where that might lead? It’s a worthy calling for me and a goal worth pursuing. Taking a real vacation could be my next big move and if I could do those things I might just end up having my life back.
It’s been so long since I felt connected to the world that I’ve almost forgotten how it feels – but today was a good test run. I can do anything I put my mind to if I just stop saying “I can’t” and change my attitude from reactive to proactive. There really is a whole world out there for people who suffer for anxiety and panic and are afraid of their own shadows. So stand up and be counted. It’s okay to be afraid, just don’t let your fear stop you from living. I’ve started to stand up to my anxiety and it feels good!
P.S. – 2014 – I have such empathy for the woman I was then – when I read this story. Anxiety is mostly a thing of the past in my life – still there under the surface as it always will be – but now mostly a footnote in my life – no longer the main event.