I've yet to see attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion or watch C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. But I have seen Bou Jeloud dance. I have seen the Man go up in flames out on the Playa. I have seen John of God operate on a woman in a trance using nothing but a rusty scalpel. I have eaten doubles in Monkey Town. And I'm sure the best is yet to come.
I like to think of myself as reasonably intrepid. Right now, I live in a country where I can't count beyond three in the native language. I've been a freelance writer nearly all my precarious working life. I wouldn't have it any other way.
But I'm also prone to bouts of anxiety so intense I sometimes expect Mr Anxious to burst out of my chest and run shrieking across the airport lounge eating my passport.
Anxiety is intended to save us when danger's on the loose. But when our inner Anxious gets out of control, it can make our lives hell. Panic attacks, postraumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (or Joey Ramone's disease), to name but three of the beauties, are all horribly debilitating.
But, and I didn't know this, all anxiety disorders are highly treatable without resorting to valium or beta blockers. Therapy, anything from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, (ACT) works. ACT 'uses strategies of acceptance and mindfulness...imparts skills to accept these experiences, place them in a different context, develop greater clarity about personal values, and commit to needed behavior change.'
Without consciously being aware of what I was doing, I've arrived at a form of ACT to deal with my own anxiety.
Several years of practising yoga have also helped. I seem to have developed a little place of calm somewhere in my consciousness that I end up going to when Mr Anxious is rampaging. I sit inside my calm garden and I wait for him to wear himself out. (Read how yoga helps with anxiety here.)
I've accepted that I'm going to live with anxiety for the rest of my life and it's going to get more intense. My parents, bless 'em, are the sort of people who do practise runs to the airport. Another member of my family (who shall remain nameless) takes a photo of the hob on his oven when he leaves the house so he can be sure it's switched off. Add all the stupid chemical things I've done to myself in my life to how I'm wired and it's no wonder I'm anxious.
But, baby, I've learned to love my anxiety. While tap dancing across the interwebnet in what you might call research for this piece, if you had your tongue firmly in your electric cheek, I came across the phrase 'Sacred Anxiety' . It's well hippy but good.
All hail anxiety
I'm anxious about the fact that I've yet to paint my novel or embroider a rawk classic. When I think that Erika might never get to eat doubles with Bou Jeloud I'm filled with anxiety. But it reminds me that, in the immortal words of The King, 'I've gotta lotta livin' to do'.
So, while I'm not convinced that the levels of anxiety I feel make me a better, more spiwichewal person, I'm sure they help me appreciate how lucky I am to be living this life. And how much work I've still go to do before I buy the farm. I let my anxiety give me a kick up the arse rather than knock me flat on my back.
I started thinking about how anxiety can actually be a 'very good thing' when I was whinging about Brexit with a good friend of mine who had the misfortune to be raised Jehovah's Witless. My friend is wired to expect Armageddon at any moment. While he dreads the prospect of blood on the streets of Bohemia, I think he also kind of wishes for it. (Here, I'm reminded of Robert Downey Jnr's splendid 'Worrying is like praying for something you don't want to happen.')
Looking at the response to Brexit among my friends and in Screenworld, I can't help but wonder if it's a case of Mass Sociogenic Illness (MSI). Obviously, what occurred a week or so ago was pretty shocking but, increasingly, the response seems out of proportion to what actually happened. So, while I'm not suggesting that Brexiterror falls into the category of 'dancing mania', I am saying that we might all be over-reacting.
And, even if we're not, surely we should be putting all the chaos, all the disorder at the border Brexit has ushered in, to work for us. We have a wonderful opportunity to change the nature of the clunking structures that got us into this mess. We could turn our backs on the hollow men and women who put personal power and that of the psychopathic corporations they shill for before the greater good. We could embrace our collective anxiety and turn it into something transformative and wonderful.
And don't you f*cking hate the word Brexit? How clever of some media smarm to reduce history to the status of a celebrity divorce.