All-You-Can-Eat-Sushi, Libraries, and Managing Anxiety
Updated: Jul 1
“We travel great distances from one another, even when our feet can still touch.”
You can often find us at the all you can eat Sushi bar, Kyoto, in Uptown Minneapolis when my kids don’t have school. We started this ritual about a year ago after my daughter signed deeply one day and said with all the nostalgia she could muster, “I wish we could go back to Amsterdam to that all you can eat sushi bar. “ (My husband works for Delta Airlines, and we travel standby all over the world for very little money. That’s why my kids say such ridiculous things about traveling. They don’t know any better.) Both kids were elated to discover that we didn’t need to fly overseas to experience the unending goodness of ordering as much edamame and teriyaki salmon as one wanted and drinking fountain pop that flows like a river (until your mother cuts you off), and hence we try to go for the Kyoto lunch special on no-school days.
After we stuff ourselves with Japanese food on school holidays, we usually go to the Uptown public library and stuff ourselves with graphic novels, poetry, and Garfield comics. We travel great distances from one another, even when our feet can still touch. We dream private dreams. We face private quests. Our everyday lives feel a lot more manageable and delightful after we’ve imagined ourselves in other worlds at the library. I guess this is part of what a day off is for, to remind us of the pleasures of our daily life. We don’t have to go far to find new and unfamiliar things around us and inside of ourselves. We use a special wheeled tote bag to bring home the books we check out.
Last night I was full of worries about this day and the next day and the day after and a long string of days stretching out into years in my mind — years filled with failure and unhappiness. I was stuck in familiar patterns of anxious thought. Intellectually, I knew the thoughts were useless, but try to tell that to the thoughts. I couldn’t seem to remember any of my new strategies for dealing with my anxiety. Nothing. My anxiety built up into frenzy, making for a rather sleepless night. The thoughts nearly paralyzed me, but not entirely. Eventually I was able to do a body scan (as taught by my mindfulness based stress reduction guru, (John Kabat-Zinn) and a sleep meditation that helped me get a few hours of rest. While it was the most difficult night I’ve had in a while, it was also an important reminder of how many good nights I’ve been having. It’s good to remember how far I've come. I am not suffering every single night from insomnia or strings of nightmares when I do sleep. I am healing from the toll anxiety has had on my life and my health. Unlike some health conditions, my anxiety disorder is a problem that I can have some influence over. It’s not easy, and it’s not always clear what to do; but I can manage my anxiety partially with mindfulness.
I want to believe I can be well. Totally well. I want to believe that if I were the immobile man Jesus found by the healing waters in the 5th chapter of John that I would say YES! when Jesus asked me “Do you want to be well?” I don’t want to be someone who only offers excuses for being sick. I want to be someone who faces my vulnerabilities and weaknesses to figure out how to move toward health. I want to be open to my own version of picking up my matt and walking.
Ultimately, I believe healing can be as generous as a library and an all-you-can-eat Sushi Bar.