-Wendell Barry, naturalist
On my way home to Elmira, NY last night, I listened to a podcast of anti-consumerist guerilla artist Keri Smith, whose Wish Jar Journal is a near-constant source of inspiration to me. She mentioned this quote by Wendell Berry, one of her favorite thinker/writers, and I have been thinking this morning about the instances and uses of dread in my life.
I went to a party earlier this year that included amongst the guests one garrulously drunk person. As soon as I saw this person in the kitchen of my friend, I felt that sinking feeling, but I ignored it, as I really wanted to be at the party. By the end of my stay, the sinking feeling had ripened into a general sense of unease and discomfort, and I left the party thinking, "Should I have done something different in response to that sinking feeling?"
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Our son's accidental 11-second entrapment in a wooden chest when he was three – bad mommy points; it probably felt like an hour to him – has left him with a lingering distrust of enclosed spaces. The prospect of a long elevator ride gives him "that sinking feeling," even if the ride is one that will take him up!
Dread is a warning, or at least a call for heightened attention, but the Berry quote gives me a different way to think about what happens next. When is pushing past that sinking feeling a kind of victory, and when is it foolhardy? Is there any way of knowing?