We Have a Choice
As I begrudgingly continue to renounce my title as The Queen of Worry, I think back to this posting from July 2016, and have a little self-snicker. It does seem like there is plenty to worry about these days. And as a life strategy, exactly how effective is that? Let’s ask Alfred E. Newman, the ageless King of Non-Worry:
For those of us old enough, What? Me Worry? might bring back memories of Mad magazine, the satirical magazine launched in the 50’s that poked fun at everything around us. A sort of Saturday Night Live for us kids of the 50’s, the magazine continued along, jabbing and snickering at life for many decades. Five-hundred plus editions later, it lives, along with its ageless mascot, the indubitable Alfred E. Newman. That goofy faced-guy represented the ultimate in carefree life attitudes. Since carefree was not a state to which I was even vaguely familiar as a child, I couldn’t relate.
Although I couldn’t relate to much of the magazine, I loved it anyway. I didn’t understand it but felt too vulnerable to ask anybody about it. It seemed, in a 50’s kind of way, strangely counter-cultural, the direction in which to lean, to be cool.
What? Me Worry?, Alfred’s motto, confused me the most. Although I was fuzzy about the concept “worry”, I certainly knew that bad things could happen at any minute and usually did. (Welcome to my childhood.) My role, inside my head, was to prevent these bad things from happening. It was, suffice to say, another exhausting and ineffective life strategy.
Let’s consider the efficacy of my major childhood worries. Here is a bulleted list of my childhood worries coupled with their eventual outcome:
- My dad, who had his first heart attack when I was in fourth grade, was going to die any day. This was my family’s silent contract, the air we breathed. Massive, lifetime worrying. Outcome? He lived to be 84 years of age. I was 52 at the time of his death.
- I had a pretty severe stutter. Talking in any way—answering the phone, reading aloud in class—all were beyond-painful and terrifying. Intense, hideous worrying. Outcome? My work is my voice, spoken and written, my capacity to speak to people’s hearts, my blessing.
- I wanted to kiss girls, especially Audrey Hepburn, with whom I was monogamous and fully committed until Mary Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary, stole my heart. (Serial monogamy in my active fantasy life helped me to feel safer.) This “longing” for girls was a life-threatening and terrifying secret. Worrying about people finding me out drove me away from life and into hiding. Outcome? I’m legally and happily married to a girl—yes, she is a girl, we both are, older girls now, for sure, clicking down the decades of life together.
My point here is this—Alfred E. Newman was right! What? Me worry? Why bother? Look at the eventual outcome of these deeply traumatic, life-defining issues. How ironic and fully pointless it is to worry. Life works out. I know this. I believe this. And I still slide into my ancient default of worrying.
Here’s the reminder: life is in charge. No matter how It unfolds (whatever the It might be), there isn’t much I can do to prevent it. The more relaxed I allow myself to be as a participant in my own life, rather than the illusion of directing it All, the more I breathe and relax and just simply allow the moment to be as it is—it unfolds with more ease and surely more grace. The more I am connected to that which is not my worrying mind, the easier the path unfolds.
I could (but I won’t) make a list of worries about the future, ranging from how to manage my overbooked schedule and/or how to age and die with dignity and grace in this national climate of uncertainty. But if my childhood list of three trauma/worries evolved with such inevitable grace, why wouldn’t my future worries also be lightened? Why would I be abandoned now?
For us, all, I pray for ease.
For us, all, I pray for relaxation into what is, and from that place of grace-filled presence, I pray for our ability to do the next, best thing.
For us, all, I pray for the willingness and the strength to just show up in the moment.
For us, all, I pray for peace.
Dear Reader-Folks, consider some super-worries from your past and their evolution. How did they unfold? What do you notice? What can you see? Please pass on your insights, all! I am email@example.com.
And I’m totally excited to invite you to webinar I’m holding with my dear friend and colleague, the brilliant Nikki Myer of Y12SR fame. Please The Yoga of Personal Integration page for more info for our March program, . Pass it on!