I've realized for some time that many of my hangups arise from a central obsession with Opportunity -- deep down, I have an odd certainty that if I don't seize the day now, I won't have the chance. This leads to all sorts of quirks, from my various media addictions to my tendency to overeat. The notion of leaving things untried, unfulfilled, uncompleted is genuinely scary to me at a soul-deep level.
But y'know, it hadn't occurred to me until just now that this is all a specific manifestation of fear of mortality. The relationship seems obvious in retrospect, but that fear was off my radar for a long time. Twenty-some years ago, I had a brief but intense pseudo-religious experience that had a lot of profound effects upon my psyche, not least that it reduced my overt fear of mortality dramatically. I'd realized at the time that it had carried a lot of other phobias and hangups away with it, but hadn't really thought about how they really related to each other.
For the past couple of years, I've been aware that that particular fear had returned. I didn't think much of it -- a bit of primal angst is fairly normal as one ages, after all. But looking at myself as a whole, I suddenly notice how it all hangs together. The word "never" becomes a lot more concrete and scary if you understand (but don't accept) your own mortality. My various obessions and insecurities all become rather consistent in that light.
I'm not entirely sure why this hasn't penetrated my consciousness before, but I suppose it's apt that it strikes me now. This week has been a quiet trifecta of death, capped by the passing of Harriet (the closest I've come so far to losing a friend and social peer). Indeed, my current depression really got going in earnest when we had to put down the cats, which made the notion of death personal for the first time in my life.
A part of me wishes I could just have another convenient epiphany and wash it all away again. But I suspect that particular lightning doesn't strike twice. I think I'm just going to have to work through it all this time. *Sigh*; midlife crises really do suck...