It's very possible, and sadly far from infrequent, for us humans to have horrible experiences. The spectrum of these far-from-satisfactory encounters is broad; from cringe-worthy embarrassment, to extreme physical torture. Although the term 'Hell' literally originates from the traditional Christian worldview (or perhaps even the Semitic worldview), it is also commonally taken to refer to a particularly unpleasant combination of mental and physical distress that is often prolonged and therefore insidious.

When we, or at least certainly myself, worry about things, about the potential horrors that we could find ourselves in, we most often depict a scenario worthy of an on-screen drama; the details are tangible and in a strange way entertaining and juicy. To go back to the classic Christian depictions of hell; fire, sharp stones, physical suffering, blood, severed limbs and all in eternity -- now that's what you want from a hell!

Yet perhaps true hell is not so obvious and not so easy to see. Hell, in its most 'refined' form, I suspect, is a lot less hollywood but no less unplesant; it is the ambiguous, bearly perceivable, yet incessant threats that pervade our everyday minds. That which fails to grab the centre of our attention, due to the more immediate concerns of work, food, paying the bills, washing, getting enough sleep, etc is, by the token of its peripheral status, able to make demands that, in the light of the day, would otherwise be seen as utterly unreasonable. We only receive vague indications of these demands through the blur of more pressing concerns and whilst these vague indications are enough to register on such a level as to set the body-mind's various coping mechanisms on alert, they are not in the forefront enough for us to coherently decipher them and deal with them pragmatically. Surely this is a worse kind of hell, where we are unconsciously taken hostage by unconfirmed threats that sap our resources yet fail to resolve.

In my experience, life, at its most fundamental level, is entirely manageable; given a clear overview of the problem and a measured response, anything can be overcome. In fact, we may even question the very concept of a 'problem' --in the existential sense at least-- for it so heavily depends on this facade of the apparently insurmountable obstacle. A threat is a threat, it is a possibility, just that, something that could potentially happen, it is not certain. It is simply unreasonable to be expected to fight a robber when they haven't even got into our house yet. Yet for some reason that's what we try and do, my body tenses as, in my mind, I struggle to push the robber to the floor, get to the front door, run away and call the police. And for as long as my mind struggles through this scenario the 'problem', the threat, is not overcome, it remains unresolved.

It's obvious when we realise what we're doing, but we don't always realise what we're doing. The only tool we have to manage all this is our mind, as it is now. It is only this moment we are being asked to engage with, anything we need to know is here,  decipherable from this vantage point and perspective. Truly, the taste of a threat or the whiff of an ambiguous demand is enough to sound the alarm bells; to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day and that a journey can only be made one step at a time.