Are You Languishing?
A few months ago, I was listening to a CBC Ideas podcast called ‘Paddle to the Amazon‘ a most fascinating documentary about a man who had a dream of paddling a canoe from Winnipeg – in the middle of Canada where he lived – to the Amazon. The epic trip would stretch nearly 20,000 kilometres and 13 countries. It turns out that the more people told him it was impossible to do, the more he became determined to do it. The podcast raised memories of me telling people that I am preparing an adventure cycling from Cairo to Cape Town.
Months later two things from the documentary stick in my mind that I very much identify with and that are so present in the situation we are in. At one point the man, Don Starkell says that 99% of what you fear never happens. This is an idea I have tried to put across over and over since the day I have decided to create the company and cycle across Africa and subsequently through rest of the world.
The second memorable idea that still reverberates for me for obvious reason is what his partner on the voyage (his teenage son) says about his father. “Knowing my dad the way that I did, his greatest fear was not living life.”
It has been 18 months since Covid-19 has appeared on our consciousness. A lot of things happened, but as I wrote in my first Covid blog “many of you may feel downcast and vulnerable, those of us who have lived long enough, know that every crisis comes to an end and that better days do follow. Sometimes, it takes a bit longer but eventually the sun does come up and we humans are programmed to take advantage of the new day.”
Mankind are an amazing creature, very smart and very resourceful. Vaccines that were initially thought to be years away are here and doing a wonderful job. A new day has arrived. What now?
Yesterday, I came across an article in the National Geographic “Why ‘getting back to normal’ may actually feel terrifying” After a year of anxiety, anger, and burnout, many people are struggling with returning to pre-pandemic behaviors. According to the article, among other things many of us are suffering what European psychologists Marcantonio Spada and Ana Nikčević dubbed “COVID-19 anxiety syndrome.”
“It’s characterized by coping behaviors “that can keep people locked into a state of continuous anxiety and fear,” with people afraid to go out, avoiding people and public places, and worrying constantly about themselves or others contracting the virus, Spada says.” The article goes on to say “Some of us are stuck somewhere in the middle, in a kind of psychological limbo, a state that psychologist Corey Keyes in 2002 characterized as ‘languishing.’ Merriam-Webster defines languishing as ‘to be or become feeble, weak,’ ‘to live in a state of depression or decreasing vitality,’ or ‘to become dispirited.’”
So what is the best way to get out of this anxiety syndrome and from languishing? In an article in the NY Times on April 19th, 2021, psychologist Adam Grant suggests “A concept called ‘flow’ may be an antidote to languishing. Flow is that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away.”
For me, I believe what Don Starkell said; 99% of what you fear never happens but more importantly and something that has motivated me from quitting my engineering job decades ago and that is “the fear of not living my life”.
My advice to all is do not wait for 100% guarantees. There are none. Get into the ‘flow’, grab the opportunity when it’s there and live your life. Whatever you have been putting off for years, now is the time to commit yourself. As has been said by others, I do not regret things I have done. I regret those which I haven’t done.
In the Paddle to the Amazon documentary Dana Starkell, the teenage son accompanying his father on the 13 countries epic canoeing adventure, said this about his father and their trip. “… I think in his mind he figured, you know, of course there’s dangers ahead. But maybe if we use our brains and … treat people right, we can come through this unscathed somehow.”
Yes, we will!