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A world of worry

Dear Editor:Anxiety symptoms are hitting the country these days like a tsunami – especially for those who live and work in this valley. These all feed into a host of physical and mental health issues, such as rage, violence, depression, obesity, burnout and substance abuse.Like environmental pollution on the outer level, a sense of “angst” or dread has pervaded our inner landscape, affecting virtually all aspects of our life from the workplace to the family, from the health of our bodies to the body politic. It’s a fact that has puzzled politicians and historians alike.We are the most powerful and affluent country in the world – but also the one that most dreads some unforeseen catastrophe that’s going to pop up out of nowhere and hit us on the head: Darn!By comparison with almost any other first-world country, levels of anxiety here on almost every issue – from crime and immigration to terrorism and gays who want to get hitched – are off the chart, in spite of the enormous security we actually have (controlling the hemisphere, both oceans, and the opposite sides of both oceans) we feel that some day the karmic chickens are going to come home to roost: that somebody is going to come after us. And when somebody is able to conjure up this specter effectively, then the whole country latches onto this as an opportunity to turn their free-floating anxiety into focused, galvanizing fear.We can’t undo external events like 9/11. But we do have a responsibility for our reactions to such events. The Aspen Valley Medical Foundation is sponsoring a conference on June 21, about ways to stand up and own this responsibility-ways of “Living Courageously in an Age of Anxiety.” If we are all somehow participants in this Age of Anxiety, sometimes just becoming aware of the madness we are participating in is all it takes to stop the looney tunes. If you feel the Aspen dream is killing you with the increasing stress levels you never bargained for when you moved here to the “top of the world,” you’ll be there 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hotel Jerome on June 21. (Call 544-7371 for registration and scholarships.)Joel BrenceAspen


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