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A Song of Anxiety—and Freedom

Because, really, I don’t think the two can be pulled apart.

I have a new song out today, one that I wrote the morning after my wedding. Throughout our engagement, I’d had plenty of rational fears about the commitment of marriage, but one of my less rational (and more menacing) fears was that the “tragic artist” part of me, which I’d thrown so much of my identity into, would starve or go into hiding. I worried that I’d be too involved with Torrey to keep making art, or that the healing balm of writing would sublimate into conversations over dinner, or wasteful ruminations, or something like that. But this whole song arrived in about 30 minutes, and Torrey actually helped me finish the title and refrain.

When responsibility and freedom each come with their own cost, where do I turn for rest? J Lind

I think it arrived so fleshed out because it was an idea that I’d been chewing on for years: the tension between responsibility and freedom. Committing to one vocation, or to one person, requires sacrifice—every “yes” is the tip of an iceberg of “no”s, just as going through one door means not going through any number of others. So I tailspin. 

But in seasons of freedom, of unadulterated choice, I find myself spinning for a different reason. The ocean of possibility, of potential mes stretching out in so many different directions, makes me anxious, and perhaps rightly so. If you aim your arrow just a bit more to the left, it could end up a quarter-mile from where it would otherwise have landed. I sometimes ruminate on how some decision here in my twenties might impact my 60-year-old self—which is helpful in small doses, but soul-sucking in its extremes. So, when responsibility and freedom each come with their own cost, where do I turn for rest?

“The Potter and the Clay” is about the complicated dance of freedom and fate that adds so many colors to life. It’s a gift, and a burden, and another example of how the finding falls short of the seeking.

You can listen to “The Potter and the Clay” here.


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