Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"An Experienced Professional's Guide To Worrying"

I am meditating in the morning, as is my routine.  I have decided to write a blog post about “worrying.”  My objective for today’s meditation is clear:

To keep myself from worrying I will be unable to pull it off.

After it’s over, I worry that I have not meditated successfully enough.


Time will tell about that one.  (Did I really need “about that one”… is a worry.  Do you see how that works?)

Worriers worry about everything.  (We can convince ourselves we are just being meticulous, but inside, we worry that it is simply “worry.”)  Worry – at least my own personal version – comes with a recognizable soundtrack.  A mechanical insistence, like the pounding of train-wheel pistons sounding like,

Ra-ti-ta Ya-ti-ta  Ra-ti-ta Ya-ti-ta

That’s it, all right.  The mere simulated reproduction generates immediate stomach cramps.


Stop it.

The one situation exempt from the worrier’s worrying are “unexpected circumstances”, when things happen so fast there just simply isn’t time.  A car comes out of nowhere and blindsides you into oblivion.  You can’t worry during a catastrophe like that.  Though you can worry you might experience one.  (Hence, my imaginary, although “real to me”, bumper sticker:  “I Brake For Shadows.”)

I shall not bleaken this post with a litany of medical concerns (“What’s that spot?”  “Why the persistent cough?”, et cetera, wherein “et cetera” means potential auguries of “bye-bye’”) certain to ignite an immediate “Worry Response.”  An upcoming doctor’s appointment can open the floodgates of agitation.   (What if they find something?”  “What if they don’t, but it’s in there, and hiding?)

It’s a beautiful summer’s day.  We do not need any of that.

I shall posit instead a “Worry Surrogate”, not to suggest it’s an unreal worry, just that the concern will not kill you.  Though – and this is no minor point – the worrier reacts to it as if it could.

Not long ago, it occurred to me to consider how much time in my life I have spent wondering, with insistent “Ra-ti-ta” accompaniment,

“Where are my sunglasses?”

I leave a restaurant.  I am halfway to the car.  I reflexively check my pocket.

“Where are my sunglasses?”

And the panic immediately sets in.

Until I check another pocket, and there they are.

Still, for one anxiety-infused moment, it was,

“What’s that spot?”

But for sunglasses.

“Where are my sunglasses?” is hardly a life-threatening situation.  If I left them somewhere, I can go back and get them.  And if I lost them, I can buy another pair.  The thing is – and I know this from experience – to a worrier, “Where are my sunglasses?” is, to the president, “How do I get them to stop fighting in Israel?”

A sudden, incendiary “Trouble Spot.”

Your mind immediately starts churning:

“Maybe someone handed them in.”

“Maybe they took them.”

“Maybe they’re not at the restaurant, they’re on the counter of the Menswear store we were in before that.”

“Maybe they’re in the car.”

“Maybe they’re at home.”

Ratita Yatita  Ratita Yatita!

Woe is me!  My poor sunglasses are

Ga-hah-hah hahne!

Okay.  (And stop sniveling.)

Tip One for Worriers: 

When you hear yourself thinking,

“My sunglasses!  They’re gone!  (Or “That spot!  This is bad!”) 

Immediately say to yourself:

“You do not know that.”  (As in “You have no unimpeachable evidence that that is the case.”  You may actually have no evidence at all.) 

Tip Two For Worriers:

If you hear yourself thinking,

“Oh, my God.  I’m going to have to buy new sunglasses!”  (Or, in the “spot” example: 
“I am quite imminently going to die.”)

Immediately say to yourself:

“It is not time to think about that.”  (This does not alleviate the worrying.  But it, more sensibly, pushes it back.)

Tip Three For Worriers:  (The “Big Boy” tip, because it calls for maturity.)

Consider the likelihood of the “Worst Case Scenario.”  And assess seriously if you can handle it.  (The “death” one is a little tricky.  But that apprehension, though ultimately inevitable, may upon rational evaluation in this case be an insupportable long shot.)

That’s what I’ve got.  Survival tips, from one chronic worrier to another.  Though I notice some people are reluctant to acknowledge their condition.

I encountered a “Closeted Worrier”, in the “Sports Section” of today’s paper.  Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, talking about the “Trade Deadline” and whether his recent uneven play made him worry about being traded.   Quoth Kemp:

“I wasn’t worried about anything.  I was just worrying about the game and worrying about what pitcher I was facing that day and what I could do to help us win.”

Did you catch the “giveaways” in that pronouncement? 

“Hey, Matty Boy.  Welcome to the club!”

The good thing is that your brain can only worry about one thing at a time, so there is no possibility of “overload.”  That is probably secretly my strategy.  Worrying about “sunglasses” blocks out more serious concerns.  The problem is, I forget that, and “sunglasses” becomes a serious concern.

I shall have to talk to myself about that.

In the case, for chronic worriers, our worrying is wall-to-wall.  I can now stop worrying if I can write this post.  I did it.  Next up:  I have to call in to see if they need me for Jury Duty.

Ratita Yatita Ratita Yatita  Ratita Yatita Ratita Yatita...   

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

This post filled me with anxiety. Will you write something calming for tomorrow?