text and photo © Jonathan Zap
When we are not working on fulfilling our dreams, our life mission, then we are likely to feel anxiety. The young man in the photo is a talented tennis player who was taking time off and reevaluating his dream of a being tennis champion. He stopped to look wistfully at a tennis court as we happened to walk by it. Meaningfulness is more important than mere survival, and meaningfulness often means working toward fulfilling your life mission, your dreams. Life missions usually rest on the two great pillars of meaningfulness — self-development and helping others. When you have trouble locating the next step in your mission, when you neglect your mission through distraction, laziness, self-sabotage — such as abusing your body or wasting time and other resources — then you are likely to feel anxiety or depression. Anxiety and mild (subclinical) depression can be very helpful in such a case, they are the spiritual form of pain, reminding you that you are off track. Rollo May defines anxiety as “Being asserting itself against nonbeing.” Deadening the anxiety through distraction or self-medication is far worse. You need to know and feel that you are lost to find your way. If you are so lost that you don’t even know you are lost, it will be pretty hard to regain your path. So it is good to have anxiety about your dreams. I find that if I neglect my mission, even for short periods of time, I am consumed by anxiety. When I am working toward my dreams, on the other hand, I can deal with a lot of stress and still have high morale. A good rule of thumb is that if you have a big dream, then it probably requires that you average at least two hours of work on it every day.