Mar 03, 2015, 10:09AM

Anxiety’s Hot Bath

Letting it all out.

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Society may tell me that soaking in a hot bath is for a woman. That there should be bubbles and New Age music. "Fuck that," or should I say, “No. Thank You.” Alcohol, marijuana and orgasms are not the only ways men can relax, though they all might help get us out of our own heads.

I left the theater early today. I was torn. I didn’t want to abandon my wonderful wife. What kind of loving partner would do that? I’m a sensitive guy, who craves the time and freedom to indulge in the impressions the world leaves on me. That sounds pretentious. I don’t care. It’s a truth I must acknowledge. It also left me nauseous in the theater.

When I realized I’d purposefully avoided looking at the wall of cartoon violence (Kingsman: The Secret Service) spilling out in front of me for over a full minute—acting that might generously be described as “stylized” and writing that might generously be described as “tolerable”—when I recognized my disdain for this movie, I told my wife I’d be outside, that I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Maybe I can’t handle escape. Perhaps I can’t appreciate a movie that spends over two hours engaging in a satire of a genre I don’t have all that much love for to begin with. To be fair: the movie wasn’t universally panned. Some enjoyed the “thrill ride.”

I’m not sure what it was. The state of mind I entered the theater in? My inability to prepare myself for this sensory overload?

I enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. The violence was artful and the films were beautiful. Tarantino doesn’t bludgeon the viewer with a sea of red without purpose. These scenes felt directionless and masturbatory. This was not art. Perhaps because I take myself too seriously, rather than walk into a theater in order to escape. Perhaps. Maybe. Who knows? I’ll never be sure.

I know this: for decades, I’ve held anxiety within me. Always know it’s near even when I release it from my grips. It comes back, magnetized. It was all around me growing up.

Something of a wonder I wasn't consumed completely. There were brutally anxious moments of self-consciousness, fear and doubt. I’ve worked to discover its sources and allow other aspects of self to open where anxiety once blocked me.

Letting anxiety out can be as complicated as allowing it to fester within: that much I’m learning.

We finished dinner. I turned the hot water on full blast. I waited. I soaked. Our puppy, JoJo, trotted in to investigate, licking the water carefully. I let JoJo lick the water off of my cheeks, forehead and eyelid. JoJo, as all puppies, has no boundaries. For this we adore her and become suffocated by her.

I let the water cover all of me, except my nose. I like to breathe. Fifteen minutes later, the water has engulfed me.

I’m dry now, and settling into the calm. I remember the late morning. The point in the day when poetry was possible.

—Follow Jonah Hall on Twitter: @darkoindex


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