Angst, and finding the balance

By Long Shot contributor Joan Scharf:

What exactly is angst? Well, officially it is a feeling of anxiety or apprehension. The urban dictionary describes it as  a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation.

The term became used more often in the late 1980s with the advent of movies with a cast of characters dubbed “The Brat Pack.” Typical late teen/early twenty-somethings who always seemed to be clashing with something in life be it their superiors, rules, even themselves.

But angst is not unique to the younger generation. Each generation suffers their own kind of angst. It just varies by degree as one gets older. A young teen suffers from a lack of a social life or significant other, a college graduate suffers from the heavy load of loans and not being able to find a job, a 40+ something begins to suffer from mid-life angst of “did I make the right decisions?” They question a long term relationship, a lengthy employment in an unfulfilling job – asking what really is their purpose in life.

The 60+ somethings ready to retire or newly retired look back and ask if they accomplished everything they wanted to do, they are on the cusp of becoming old and forgotten to the rest of the world. Once needed as a parent, an experienced employee who was looked upon as trustworthy and a good role model, now looked upon as a medical liability to the same company and an employee who can be replaced by much cheaper labor.

Beyond 70 and the new angst is centered around healthcare, savings accounts, prescriptions, pensions, and the inevitable breakdown of a body never designed to last for 90 years without lots of maintenance.

How does one deal with the angst of each of these passages? There is no pill, no flat answer, no one size fits all, no prayer request. There is only life,  and in life one can only look for balance. I don’t think living longer provides the answers we have all been asking. I doubt that at 90 years of age, one looks skyward and exclaims “finally, I know my purpose.”

The only answer is to look for balance. For every bad thing, look for one good thing. For every minus, look for a plus. If the car breaks down today (a huge minus), then say to yourself that at least it broke down at home and not driving on the freeway and no one got killed (the plus).

Is it easy? Certainly not. Life can be overwhelming and at times, just plain stink. Unfortunately, there is no other choice. Poets, painters, writers – all express angst in their work. When angst is overwhelming, just think, this too shall pass and in ten years you can look forward to the next stage of angst. Ha!


Those Darn Kids!

By Long Shot contributor Joan Scharf:

She kept frantically running back and forth, back and forth, five, maybe six times as if her life depended on it. What was she doing, I wondered? I watched for over an hour and finally saw what she was after.  As she ran from my sight, I could see the well-fought for meal in her mouth. She worked all afternoon to get that meal. Her babies would be well fed tonight. I wondered if maybe they hadn’t eaten in days. Good mother that she is, she did not stop to eat herself. No, she took that rabbit back to the den to feed her hungry pups.  The coyote mother was doing what many other mothers were doing that early evening. She was feeding her family.

Coyote puppies - waiting for mom to bring home dinner?

Coyote puppies – waiting for mom to bring home dinner?

I wondered how many human mothers would spend that much time getting food for their babies, especially if they had to hunt and cook the food instead of taking something out of the freezer and microwaving it.

The following day another drama unfolded over a three hour period. Another mother was frantically trying to help her baby. I watched helplessly as a baby bluejay flew into the open garage and up onto the rafters. Over and over again he flew from rafter to rafter, screaming and screeching for his mother. The large door was wide open but somehow even though he flew in, he could not see the escape route right in front of him.I tried to shoo him toward the door but no luck. He flew up into the ceiling looking for his escape route.

Mama bluejay heard the frantic screams and flew into the garage.

After sitting next to him on the rafters until he calmed down, she then showed him the way out and flew out the open door. Baby did not follow. Again he screamed and screeched, now so stressed his beak was wide open and he was panting. It was over 90 degrees in the garage and I could tell he was in danger of overheating. I gently sprayed water from the hose over his tiny body to cool him down. He was quiet for a while but then continued his screams. Three more times mama came in and tried to show him the way out. Three more times he did not follow her.

Finally, I decided to put a pan of birdseed on the garage floor hoping he would come down to eat and realize he was inches away from the outdoors and freedom.  Mama came down and investigated the seed, baby followed her onto the ground. Finally! Mama and baby flew off together.  Again, I wondered if a human mother would have done as much as that bird had done for her baby. After all, she could have just left him as the baby was able to fly on his own and most likely old enough to find his own food. Her instinct told her to stay and help.

A hippo mom helps her calf do...something.  Baby hippos are born underwater - maybe this little calf is heading towards open air for the first time?

A hippo mom helps her calf do…something. Baby hippos are born underwater – maybe this little calf is heading towards open air for the first time?

Time after time I have witnessed animal mothers risking their own lives to save their babies. Mama bears taking on large males who might be a threat, mother lions tangling with a huge male to protect a cub, raccoon mothers spending all day looking for food for baby, mama cats nearly starving to death themselves while still feeding five tiny kittens. Some people believe that humans are the rulers of the earth, the top of the food chain, the lords of the land.

This day, like so many others lately, these stories are cropping up on our newsfeeds:

A 24-year-old Pennsylvania woman abandoned her 8-month-old daughter in the woods with the hopes of getting “a fresh start,” according to police.

Jennifer Cutruzzula was spotted by a neighbor walking into the woods with her child, only to emerge alone. The neighbor called police and went into the woods and found the baby girl on a muddy hillside next to a bottle of milk.

“She walked into this area with the intention of abandoning the child,” said Alleghany County District Attorney Stephen Zappala

I will leave the reader to decide who should be the lords of the land.

Yes, even snails have moms

Yes, even snails have moms