The first e-mail in my file this morning was one of those junk promos. It simply was tagged "How to stop anxiety."

Being the somewhat curious person I am, I clicked on the file and a blank screen appeared. It was snow white. A Klansman in an avalanche. No words of wisdom. Not even any garble. It was so blank I had flashbacks to algebra exams and my first date.

Now I would guess that most of us who work with computers have sent e-mails where we forgot to include the attachment. Busy days.

But I pondered the blank screen. I know some people who suffer such intense anxiety issues that a promise and then a blank screen would have put them into anxiety orbit.

My first assumption is that the blank screen is a mistake. After all, it was Friday and we know the old saying about things that are built on Fridays.

And then I considered other possibilities for a blank screen -- one being that there is no real cure for anxiety without a prescription.

I think we all deal with some degrees of anxiety. Some folks just tough it out and others do need medical attention.

In moments of anxiety, the stomach churns. Some people chatter like a monkey watching the rain forest disappear. I've seen people break out in hives. Others sweat like a politician in Florida waiting for votes to be counted. For some, anxiety causes them to eat continuously. (I wish I had known about that symptom much earlier. I could have used it as an excuse.)

In other words, the blank screen might be the result of the adviser pondering the fact that anxiety is a natural ingredient to life no less than frustration, fire ants and encyclopedia salesmen. And at the last moment he canned all the hype and without actually saying it proclaimed, "You're on your own bucko, I'm going to Disney World."

Then again this adviser might have waxed philosophically and just offered us the space to write our own cure. I once read or heard a quote that said, "The answer is within you." That can be very deep or very shallow. It can mean that we must search our souls and find our way. Or it could mean, "I don't have a clue, just make something up."

I can't remember where I heard that thing about "the answer is within you." It could have been during a college philosophy class or it might have been a line delivered from "the master" to "Grasshopper" in the old television series "Kung Fu." And in a more literal sense, it could have referred to some kid swallowing his cheat notes when he saw the teacher coming his way.

Another possibility: The blank screen could simply have stated, "Don't worry, be happy!" But where was the smiley face?

Over the years, I have seen people who just seemed to never get really excited. Their password to every door in life, opening to good or bad, seemed to be "whatever."

I worked with a fellow in Tennessee years ago who was one of the calmest persons I had ever met. I don't know if he was born that way or if he did yoga. If someone had called him up and told him where to find Jimmy Hoffa's body and the story was exclusively his if he acted promptly, he might have stopped on the way for a sausage and biscuit or to have his tires rotated.

I've had moments of extreme anxiety. The other night I woke up in a cold sweat after a dream in which one of my high school teachers said those dreaded words, "Clean off your desks and take out a pencil and a blank sheet of paper." She has long since passed on. I wonder if she is trying to communicate with me through my computer?

So maybe I need counseling. Or an exorcist. Or maybe I just need to quit eating late night snacks. Which reminds me, it's almost lunch time and I'm getting a little anxious.

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail:

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