You Choose - The Difference between Dread and Angst

December 10, 2009
You’re sitting on the bright grass and looking down below. The small, pretty cliff you’re sitting on gives you a beautiful view of bright blue mountains and meadows, with some aesthetically pleasing rocks below. The sun shines on the bright waters of a river, and then you, as a beam of sunlight warms your face, and you plop backwards onto your back so you can look up at the sky. As the clouds gently roll by, you realize that you’re starting to doze off, so you stand up and stretch. As you do, the class ring on your wedding-ring finger falls off over the cliff. You see if and take a few steps back. For the first time since you’ve been up there, you look down. Not at the pretty view you had previously seen. Oh, no! This time, you see your demise. You stand staring at and fearing the cliff and what it could do to you. You’re not able to take this nagging warning any longer, so you start to turn and ran away from the cliff. But you turn too quickly, and your left foot trips the right foot, resulting in your whole body crashes to the hard ground you thought was soft only a few minutes ago. This brings you to a near panic; if you had fallen only a foot or two closer to the edge, you’d still be falling now. Or, you think, maybe I’d already be crushed up to the point of being unidentifiable. Maybe I’d be lying on the rocks. The imagery in that particular thought makes you feel like throwing up. You’re perfectly panicked now, and hop up far too quickly, too carelessly, and you slip again.



You’re sitting on grass so colorful it hurts your eyes, so instead you look down below. The cliff you’re sitting on gives an interesting view, but the sun’s beams are bright in your eyes and seem to mock you. It’s as if they’re trying to force you into a conventionally perfect, happy, cheery day. You fall backwards and close your eyes, wanting nothing but a nap to escape to, but you quickly realize it’s as hopeless as the cheerful day, as usual. You can’t stop thinking – stop existing – so you open your eyes and face the reality that you’re here, stand up, and stretch. You don’t want to look down that cliff anymore at all, but you have to because you dropped the sweater you were using as a pillow. The already formed thought in the back of your head creeps up closer and closer: What would happen if that sweater was me, you ask yourself with a teeny voice you can barely hear, even in your own mind. You can’t stop staring down, and you feel an angst you know you’d felt before but can’t remember how to handle it, or even if you want to handle it. At any time—five seconds, ten minutes, three years, it doesn’t matter—anytime you want you can throw yourself off the edge of that cliff. Naturally, this thought is not calming. It disgruntles you, and you let out a low moan from deep within your chest. You think again about the sweater and begin to panic. A choked sob rises from your breast but there are no tears in your eyes; you’re far too frightened to cry. Soon you know you can’t take it anymore. You know that if you wait a minute longer, you’ll be able to do it easily. You turn around to run far, far away from this damned cliff but you turn too quickly and trip. However, you’re so panicked the ground seems almost soft to you. Breathing heavily, you realize just how close you are to falling into a pile of jagged rocks. No, you think, I can’t. You try to get up, then stop and stay very still, as if you are going to do a push-up. You don’t bother trying. It’s useless. You know you will, and you do.





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