BELIEF: Hive Of Nerves by Christian Wiman

Meditation of a Modern Believer

Hive Of Nerves by Christian Wiman

From My Bright Abyss

It is time that the stone grew accustomed to blooming,
That unrest formed a heart.
(Paul Celan)

At a dinner with friends the talk turns, as it often does these days, to the problem of anxiety: how it is consuming everyone; how the very technologies we have developed to save time and thereby lessen anxiety have only degraded the quality of the former and exacerbated the latter; how we all need to “give ourselves a break” before we implode.  Everyone has some means of relief – tennis, yoga, a massage every Thursday – but the very way in which those activities are framed as apart from regular life suggest the extent to which that relief is temporary (if even that: a couple of us admit that our “recreational” activities partake of the same simmering, near-obsessive panic as the rest of our lives).  There is something circular and static to our conversation, which doesn’t end so much as fizzle indeterminately out, and though there is always some comfort in comparing maladies, I am left with the uneasy feeling that my own private anxieties have actually increased by becoming momentarily collective – or no, not that, increased by not becoming collective, increased by the reinforcement of my loneliness within a collective context, like that penetrating but enervating stab of self one feels sometimes in an anonymous crowd.  It is a full day later before it occurs to me that not once, not in any form, not even with the ghost of a suggestion, did any of us mention God.

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