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  • Writer's pictureAli Assareh

“Anxiety is an elixir, and depression a sedative.

“Each morning the twin gremlins of fear & lethargy sit at the foot of our bed.

“Fear of further departure, fear of the unknown, fear of the challenge of largeness intimidates us back into our convenient rituals, conventional thinking, and familiar surroundings.

“On the other front, lethargy seduces us with sibilant whispers: kick back, chill out, numb out, take it easy for a while … sometimes for a long while, sometimes a lifetime.

“This daily confrontation with these gremlins of fear & lethargy obliges us to choose between anxiety & depression, for each is aroused by the dilemma of daily choice.

“Anxiety will be our companion if we risk the next stage of our journey, and depression our companion if we do not.

“This archetypal drama is renewed every day, in every generation, in every institution, and in every decisive moment of personal life.

“Faced with such a choice, choose anxiety & ambiguity, for they are developmental, always, while depression is regressive.

“Anxiety is an elixir, and depression a sedative.

“Clearly, physiological or spiritual development always requires a greater capacity in us for the toleration of anxiety & ambiguity.

“The capacity to accept this troubled state, abide it, and to commit to life, is the moral measure of our maturity.”

Excerpts from James Hollis’s excellent Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life.

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