On Writing, On Observing, On Anxiety

By Riley Dixon

Photo credit: Riley Dixon

In attempting quite fervently to ‘idle,’ I learned that I am almost incapable of remaining in a completely idle state. There is a buzzing inside and out that I cannot seem to shake unless I am totally at peace. I seem to have falsely convinced myself that a moment at rest is a moment wasted. There is not a single part of me that enjoys a passive existence—and so I write.

If there is a silence, I am pressed to fill it. If there is a rock in my path, everything strains to kick or toe it along. I am doggedly committed to doing anything except simply being. As a child, visitors were amused by my boundless energy; I was known amongst older relatives as a “pepper-pot.” I was always brimming with something—tantrums or laughing fits, I was very full.

Though I have never been an idle personality, I prefer the background. I am something fast and approaching but never quite center stage. The horizon line is my element, but the moment attention pans to me and demands that I speak up and take responsibility, rather than observe and write, I stutter and stop. Without a doubt, I’d make a miserable actress—but a beguiling and, perhaps, remarkable extra—and so I write.

This is where I make my best observations. When you become part of the scenery, you have a perfect and yet unassuming vantage point. Unfortunately, I am never still enough to appreciate the details. While the world is open and presented like a delicate pearl, I am turning music on. It is loud and distracting; someone’s high school garage band, and it is just enough noise that I can’t think (and so, instead, I write).

I worry about what to cook for dinner. Perhaps, since my brother last spoke with me six months ago, he has suddenly died. Small things, extravagant things—nothing is off limits, except logic. It is rare to share a moment alone not plagued by anxiety and idiosyncrasies. If I was anyone but my own comfortable self, I’d plead insanity. My brother is not dead; there will be pot roast for dinner.

I am aware that I am constantly consumed by the ridiculous.

I choose to write because my mind is incredibly crowded. I find it difficult to be idle, because I have to be aware. There are too many things to worry about: I can still hear doors shutting from what must be miles away and the chattering of wild dogs low on the savannah, feasting on someone else’s misfortune. The pot roast isn’t on the table and my brother still hasn’t called—these things, the littlest of things, consume me—and so I must write.

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