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  • Writer's pictureJose Arrieta

An Anxious Ball of Yarn

In many ways, I am an anxious ball of yarn. As my threads periodically cycle around my core, I worry that things will not be. Not be perfect ok. My mind likes to cycle and repeat. Go back and remember. Go forward and pretend the future will look like the past. Weekly I make the same mistake. Monthly I make the wins.

With time my anxiety turns my yarn into a monster. A frilly ball of madness. Full of all that’s good and bad in the wall. Be it, the threat of nuclear war. Any of the currently running pandemics. The endemic lack of empathy in a capitalist society. My utter lack of energy for completing menial tasks. My ball of yarn just grows.

In “First we make the beast beautiful”, Sarah Wilson builds up to the ball of yarn analogy to anxiety. She masterfully presents how anxiety in itself is a path. And provides a wealth of ideas for us to care for our own marvelous mounds. As a highly rational anxious ball of yarn I loved the call out and the opportunity to try and fail at becoming someone else.

The reality is that I am my yarn. And I deeply love it. There are pills that could unspool and flatten my yarn. Pills that could make all feel predictable. All feel ok. I doubt I will try them. I am enamored with the idea of a life worth living and although I live in the flatlands of Europe, I despise flatness. I cannot imagine myself looking for less excitement.

If there is something my frizzy threads bring is a plethora of twists and turns. A chance to go high. A chance to go left and come back. It is hell for my memory. I might cycle back to who I was years ago. I might anger the people around me. Hell, I enrage myself. Indeed, one of my early memories was promising not to kill myself at any point in the future. I can’t imagine most newly minted primary schoolers share that experience. I decided my yarn was too precious to harm.

The beauty of the time we live is the possibility of connecting with others who share your narratives. For the last decade, I’ve watched weekly how John Green shares some of his yarn. Earnest is a word we thread-based people value. Earnest might well be John’s middle name. For the past decade, John has helped me cultivate my heart, my strength, and my courage. I am deeply honored to have lived my life in a time where I can bundle myself around such a good thread stock.

Just as John Leguizamo discovered, history was not generous to anything outside its main narrative. Saying was is a bold assertion. But if anything, I tend to be correct with the tense in which I write. Or at least, I am certain that historiography has changed. It has changed in a similar way as everything has. The abundance and marvel of our time enabled us to afford to store multiple threads in our collective archives.

The archives of history have exploded. As I type I know what I mean. It is an effort similar to John’s on building a mark on the world and presenting who I am. It won’t matter to anyone but it does. Doesn’t it. Every time a new narrative enters our history books, the next is made easier to store (e.g., StoryCorps, or 60 Second documentaries). The human experience is beautiful and varied. Yet, the beautiful variety exists because of its humanity, the pride it brings when shared, and the instant connection it creates when we see ourselves in a thread we could not have imagined.

It is this connection that matters in our lives. We are just yarn people. Some fussier than others. Many claim they are well organized and tightly wound. Some less so. But when we go back to our nature, the hemp, cotton, or sheep that brought us into existence, we know we are one. We are all on a path to build ourselves and tread new experiences around our threads.

PS: I thank Alex Maese for building a figure I cannot take out of my head.

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