I’ve been going through some rough days lately. I guess we all have our personal «kryptonite», and I had to face mine. Add to that a mind that works on full speed at all times and a bad habit of drafting worst case scenarios, and you have the recipe for disaster. Or rather, anxiety. I have found that I handle anxiety very poorly, and the reason for that is probably that I am not anxious very often — it’s an unfamiliar and awkward feeling. In fact, I can only think of a couple of things I am anxious about. One is tight, enclosed spaces — I was once buried by an avalance and I’ve been a bit claustrophobic since. The other is hospitals, and it was that old fear of hospitals that climbed up on my back a few days ago and clenched its ice cold legs around my waist. Let me tell you, that feeling is so awful that I am seriously planning to go on some crazy expeditions when I get old. Better to freeze to death in a blizzard or get lost at sea than ending up in a hospital, at least that is what my inner voice tells me.

I won’t go into details about why I had to go to the hospital. First of all, because it wasn’t me having a checkup, I was accompanying. Secondly, even the worst case scenario didn’t involve death or lasting injury of any kind. But I had been bracing myself for that worst case scenario for days ahead and when the doctor said that everything is fine, everything is perfect, there is nothing to worry about anymore, the feeling of joy was so strong I got all dizzy and emotional. (Dizzy because I hadn’t been able to eat for a couple of days and emotional because — well, I am an emotional guy.) Then I felt a bit stupid. Why? Because once again, I was reminded that I’m a fool making all those pictures in my mind. If I could only have been a bit more sensible, a bit more «in the middle» between my normal state and that anxious state, things would have been easier.

But easier is not always better. I must admit, most days I feel great. Actually, I usually feel like there is no challenge too big, and I always have lots of energy. I would say I mostly feel like a superhero without the «hero» part, because it’s such a big word and should be reserved for the real heroes. And it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. So life is good. Until I encounter that kryptonite. Then I always get knocked right out of my boots. Every time.

I often tend to think about people as boats out on the sea. And I try to imagine how the waves that carry them through life look like. Some people drift across shallow waters. There are no real highs and no real lows. Others spend their life out in stormy waters. I’m one of those, I guess. And the waves are extremely choppy sometimes. But even the worst storms can be managed and every ocean can be crossed. And it’s up to us to set sail and choose a heading.

-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen (copyright)

Read more: Once We Were Free