Get Nervous

I love monster nightmares. I am a grownup, overweight white male with a little beard. There is nothing in my real life of which I’m terrified. I worry about stuff, middle class stuff mostly; kids’ grades, that weird sound coming from the right rear of my car, death. But I don’t get to have any concrete fears. If I lived in some horrible place, like the Congo, I could legitimately worry about marauding machete-wielding maniacs. Or being eaten by some monster African snake or whichever of the billion horrible ways there really are to die in the Congo. In Delmar, Maryland, however, there are only unlucky ways to die. If I want to know real terror, I have to get it in my dreams.

The difference between terror and horror (I think) is the aftermath. A dream where your kids die is horrible, literally. That is horror. A dream where you’re relentlessly chased by vampires or werewolves or some unknown threat is terrible, literally. The difference between the two is when you have a horror dream, you wake feeling at least a little deader, a little more depressed, a little older. When you wake from a terrible dream, you’re pretty much just glad the zombies (or whatever) have stopped chasing you.

The point is, if I’m lucky I’ll never know real terror. Mortal danger is a rare experience for us little-bearded, overweight white guys. We deal primarily in masculine role frustration, existential angst, etc. The best part about monster nightmares, besides insight into what it’s like to be truly afraid, is they replace anxiety dreams.

Anxiety dreams are horrible. They are the most depressing dreams a person can have take it from me as a regular participant in existential angst. They are the prevailing worries of the day haunting you in your sleep. If you live in the Congo, it is bad enough, but if you live in the west it is worse.

Westerners, especially members of the middle class, have dreams about things going wrong at work. How depressing is that? In a dream world where we can fly or fight zombies, the majority of us choose instead to worry about too many calls coming in at once.

In my case, anxiety dreams tended to revolve around deadlines. I was in the newspaper business for a decade and concerns of content, space, and humiliating typographical errors, would occasionally creep into my dream time.

I’m finishing my second week at work for the Foundation in Human Potential and I’ve begun to wonder what kind of anxiety dreams I’ll have. My primary responsibilities are writing, researching and talking, so I figured the odds of having anxiety dreams were diminished.

But I spoke with Bryan Brushmiller at Burley Oak. His job is to make and drink beer and he still has the occasional anxiety dream. If someone who has one of the most fantastic jobs I coud even imagine has work anxiety dreams, I’m probably doomed to them as well.

Which brings me to Peyton Manning. I began by wondering what Derek Jeeter’s work anxiety dreams must be like. Having to pee but always being on deck, stuff like that, I supposed. But Manning has literally not had a good line in nearly a decade. I supposed his anxiety dreams had to do with not remembering what play he’d called, or seeing a blitz and not being able to call it off. Over and over again each night he gets clobbered by some indiscernable rusher and, for him, it’s no different than beng unable to answer a phone that won’t stop ringing.
There’s plenty more on this week’s Todcast, including ToddManOut man on the street interview with this week’s guest Nick Denny.  Take a listen below or subscribe here.