It may be the internet. It may be the ongoing, no-end-in-sight pandemic. It may be the onslaught of technology and human greed crushing the panacea of our environment. It may be the incessant global bickering and bad behavior. It may be the fatigue of engaging with this Brave New World where we are constantly on guard, vigilant about what we do, how we speak, where we go, how we must be. It is malaise.
In other words, we don’t feel so good... even when we try to, by distractions, by engaging with the opening up of society, by getting vaccinated, by starting to attempt to resume our prior lives. We don’t feel so good because the world is rapidly changing and seems to be leaving us behind. The world, with its dissenting, fractious voices, its toxic geopolitical forces, its environmental calamities, seems to be racing ahead with nothing to calm it down. And we in the majority, who desire some semblance of peacefulness, of soothing stillness, of the ability to be free and carefree again, are stuck, and know that we are.
Malaise is that lurking feeling of mortality. While the frightening, angry world races on, we feel powerless, questioning desperately how to regain control of our lives. But again, as I’ve said before in this column, control is not ours. We do not call the shots when it comes to the lessons we must learn, like accepting change, decline, and death. Our one salvation – yes, a salvation exists – is for all of us to try to improve ourselves as much as possible, by aiming minute-by-minute for higher values like humility, kindness, remorsefulness, gratitude, caring, patience, and dedication. We can reset ourselves. It is possible. But until then, our deep, unfulfilled malaise will be our indication that we are off course.