I think the secret to a good life is found in the lines. The fine ones. The wrong side of the line, and life just doesn’t work properly. Too far on the right side of the line, and you’re headed for a giant fall.
Let me explain.
Feeling a little anxiety every now and then is good. A sharp kick of adrenaline keeps us fired up, alert, and ready for, well, stuff. All the stuff that challenges us. Even the stuff that threatens us. Our body has a fight or flight instinct honed in our cave-dwelling days wired up and ready to make sure we have it all covered. Step over that fine line, however, and alertness becomes wired, and a reasoned preparedness becomes spiralling panic. Feeling anxious becomes being anxious. Being constantly anxious, truly anxious, is absolutely no use. It makes us make mistakes and act irrationally Now, it might be tempting to draw the conclusion that one simply should not worry at all. One should be care free and laid back, the closer to horizontal, the better. But that’s no use either. We need a little worry, the occasional burst of anxiety. Otherwise, we’d run a daily risk of getting hit by a bus. And thus the need to pay attention to the fine line. The fine line between feeling anxious when it serves us and being anxious all the time. Walk along the line, and you’re pretty much okay. Fall into being anxious all the time, and you’re screwed. Fall into never feeling an ounce of worry, and you’re also pretty much screwed.
It’s true for almost anything.
There is a fine line between a couple of biscuits and the whole packet. One is a nice treat; the other is a recipe for not fitting into your favourite jeans. Attempt to resist all together and spend your time thinking about the yumminess you can’t have until you give in. The same applies for a couple of glasses of wine verses the bottle. The you of the future is always glad when you walk the fine line between a relaxed drink and inebriation, believe me.
There are fine lines between a deluge of things from the mundane biscuit to the influential role anxiety plays in our life. To name a few: nerves and fear; pride and vanity; accepting responsibility and drowning in guilt; the days with tinges of sadness and enduring depression; allowing people to lean on you and being a doormat; sticking to your guns and stubbornness; being principled and riding a high horse; relaxation and laziness; cleanliness and obsessiveness; sitting down to an episode of Gilmore Girls and binge watching half a season. It goes on and on. And it’s exhausting. Plus, so many of these facets of life are hard, if not impossible, to control. (I mean, have you ever just watched one episode of Gilmore Girls in a sitting?)
So, it’s no wonder life feels hard sometimes. It’s no wonder we struggle trying to keep on top of things, to make the right choices, and to take control over what we’re feeling since we are always trying to find our balance. What’s more, everyone has their own position on where to draw the line. For one person, three hours on the sofa might leave them feeling rested and ready for the world while the next person despises such idling. There isn’t universal agreement on how far one should go to defend their ideals or at what point organised becomes too organised. We’re not only walking along these tightropes, we’re twisting the rope to our preferred level of slackness, then falling off anyway.
Is there an answer? Probably not. We seem destined to worry either too much or not enough and designed to be either too quick to please or not quick enough to bend our principles. We run around giving ourselves no time to breath, then veg out on the sofa until Netflix asks us how the hell we could still be in front of the TV (only more politely). Of course, we’d be robots rather than humans if we always reacted perfectly to every decision and choice. Still, perhaps a little awareness of the fine lines we walk might be the first step to not falling too far off the path.