|Art by Edward Gorey.|
Jumpy, nervous as in the skittish horse. In my case I think of it more as appropriately wary. Take nothing, or very little, for granted. It can be exhausting. The week past that had me resetting passwords all over the known virtual universe due to hacking or spamming of my address book causes me to approach my mailbox as though it might hold a nest of pit vipers.
Vigilance or hyper-vigilance are not desirable states. Excessive production of cortisol and other stress-related bodily responses is unwelcome not to mention unhealthy. I don't believe any living creature becomes skittish for no reason, as Mr. Gorey points out - frequent ghastly happenings. Reversing skittish tendencies, there's the task.
The antidote for skittishness is, I suppose, peace, tranquility or the ability to find and hold onto them in the midst of life being life. The waters cannot be trusted to grow still enough for a long enough time to count on that being the the norm, the reliable, irrevocable norm. In the absence of which we must create our own calm or be forever tossed like kindling in a tornado. If we don't become our own placid centers we are at risk of rattling ourselves to bits, one bolt at a time. Soothing words spoken in gentle voices, reassuring touch, consistency, freedom from jeopardy or something else wearing its clothes, all help to sand smooth raw nerves and a tendency to yelp or tremble.
It is, we are or I am, like water in the locks of the Panama Canal, rising an increment at a time, making the transition from chronic jumpiness to a steady hand, no tea spilled in the saucer. How many movies have we seen where something spooks the horses, causes the herd to stampede? One of our broadcast channels shows John Ford's RED RIVER about every 17 hours so I've been freshly reminded of the tendency to bolt at an unexpected sound, a sudden movement.
Human existence is rooted in the unexpected, which does not have to mean the alarming but merely that for which one has not planned. There have been and will probably continue to be long stretches when everything feels like a detour to me. Sink holes, landslides, X Files-like events, find another route. Unflappable is the goal - "Be cool, my babies," as Conan O'Brien says - from stampede to serene in one lifetime.