I just dropped an entire gravel truck of angst on my journal page for today (vrrumph, and lots and lots of dust). That’s because someone else dumped her load of angst on me yesterday, after doing the same thing the day before. Four days ago, I wrote a poem about the angst I was repeatedly reading while surfing the net. I didn’t post the poem because it was full of (you got it), angst.
I have always thought that angst was anger, misdirected and confused, but none the less, anger. It even sounds like anger, but anger tied up in a knot. Because there have been so many knots of anger in my life, at the present moment, before coming here, I went to Dictionary.com to investigate the word itself. Surprise, surprise, it doesn’t mean anger. It means: A feeling of anxiety or apprehension often accompanied by depression. Talk about a knot, hunh?
So, I went one step further. I went to the Thesaurus on the same cite and found these synonyms (words that have the same or similar meanings): agony, apprehension, blues, depression, dread, mid-life crisis, misgiving, nervousness, uneasiness, Weltschmerz . No anger. Okay, now we are getting somewhere. Those things helped me understand the poem I had written and what had driven it into being. It also drastically changed my sense of being put upon by someone near and dear to me, as well as avenues toward a much clearer form of conversation. But what the heck is Weltschmerz ?
Back at Dictionary.com, I found this further piece of enlightenment: Weltschmerz is a German noun meaning sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary portion in life; sentimental pessimism. My investigation ended right there because there was no Thesaurus notation on Weltschmerz, a word that I liked the sounds of, and thought were appropriate for that deeper meaning of melted sorrow that leaves a possibly permanent smirch on the emotional landscape. Have I mentioned that I do so love language and will be eternally grateful that I didn’t post the poem?
Nuff said, where is all of this going? I could take it in one of several directions. I could point out that whatever kind of writing one does, it’s important to use the readily available tools that are present to help one make oneself clear, as well as correct. Adding, of course, that it is sloppy, lazy, and disrespectful of what one is attempting to do in not doing just that. If you don’t care, why should your reader (even if your only reader is you)? Remember, that although you might think you are being clear as glass, glass shatters quite easily and makes a distinct sound when it does so, a sound that makes everyone wince.
In an altogether different direction, I could also point out that a journal is an excellent place to learn vocabulary, communication skills, and further ones own intelligence level by doing exactly what I did this morning. Check out the sources and get it right. Don’t make assumptions if you intend to do that in writing. And do that all in private, so that when you leave the privacy of your pages, your slip isn’t showing, whether you are speaking or writing. I could go on, but I won’t.
That brings us to my misconception about angst. Does it have any validity? I certainly think it does, but I was also jumping the gun. Anxiety, depression, and uneasiness often does lead to a certain kind of anger that is definitely tied up in knots of frustration. A negative approach that can be heralded with pumped up volume, biting words, intense looks, misunderstood communications, and a whole lot of other things that look, and feel, a lot like anger. When it is inadvertently pointed in your direction, it feels personal and calls out a defense posture. And, as we all know, fighting anger with anger only results in more anger, and thus many more, and even tighter, knots.
Because I love language and respect it, I am also deep into communication. There is, for me, nothing worse than not being heard, or being misunderstood. That can bring on Weltschmerz and that sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary portion in life, faster than almost anything else. Being a word person, is a disadvantage at times because it can and does result in the sentiment and truth of Tracy Chapman’s words, If I could say the right words, at the right time… I am divorced, after twenty years of marriage, because of just such an unconscious belief system.
Which, in turn, brings me to the one direction I intended to take here. Keeping a journal, carrying on the most important dialogue of one’s life experience, is a deliberate action that can, and does, resolve a great deal of angst. Untying those knots of anger is worth the time and effort spent on a page of paper, rather than the resultant war one might end up uselessly waging against another human being. There is far too much angst, and its resultant anger, in our world as it is. Why add to it? Especially when there is a solution that actually works?