Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy . . . or What 2010 Has Taught Me

“I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.”
                                                                                                         
If you know me at all, you also know that procrastination is one of my greatest weaknesses.  (I almost said “my single greatest weakness,” but I don’t want to be unfair to sloth, avarice, and greed.)  For the past year, I’ve successfully put off writing this blog, only to reinstate it finally this week.  Why, you ask?  Oh, lots of reasons, but here’s the short list.  Since last we met in cyberspace I have:

a)  Learned that the Boy Scouts are right, you do need to be prepared  
(because I was prepared with full-strength aspirin at hand, I could shove one down  my husband’s throat on Christmas Day when he casually mentioned, “I think I may be having a heart attack”– he’s fine, all is well, and I know where the aspirin is)
                                                
b)  Gotten good, I mean really good, at packing
(because in July 2009 we moved part of our stuff into a new place in Seattle and part of our stuff into our old house on the southwest Washington coast; six months after that, we moved all of our stuff down to the house; five months after that, we moved some of our stuff back to another place in Seattle – a short story I promise to make long in another blog)

c)  Recognized that being good, really good, at packing is not a skill that transfers to unpacking  
(because, well, just because)

d)  Realized that the grass actually is greener on the other side of whatever fence you’re straddling
(because I tried to retire and avidly disliked it, then went back to work and wished I’d stayed retired – there you go)

While I’ve been on this voyage of self-revelation, I also discovered something else:  Worrying is a waste of time.  I’ve mentioned this before, but this time I mean it.  Really, truly.  So, to mark my return to the blogosphere, I’m publishing a list of things I pledge never to worry about again.  Seriously.

From here on in I do solemnly swear I will not worry about . . .

What’s for Dinner
Frankly, I don’t care.  I’m just as happy with a bowl of cereal as with a hand-crafted, organically fed pot roast.  If others are not, they should worry about that.  I’m not going to.

The State of the Economy
Look, I’ve worried about it for years and where has it gotten us?  Greater minds than mine are obsessed with economic theory.  If they can’t figure out how to fix it, fat chance I can.  So I’m giving that one up. 

The Weather
I mean, really, what’s the point?  In my neck of the woods, it rains a lot.  And sometimes it snows.  The ones who need to worry about the weather are the guys whose job it is to keep the streets cleared, not me.  (Word to the wise:  the mayor of Seattle might need to worry.)  If my state of happiness is dependent upon good weather, I should live somewhere else – and I’m not moving (see item b, above).

Whether Things Match
I used to care, I mean CARE, whether the napkins matched the place mats (and that there were napkins and place mats) . . . whether my shoes matched my hemline . . . that the ribbon matched the wrapping paper . . . that my coat matched the rest of my outfit.  I am now resolved simply to be happy that I have time to sit down at the table and eat . . . that my shoes don’t give me blisters and do keep my feet dry (see, The Weather, above) . . . that I actually got around to wrapping the gift instead of just leaving it in the bag, not to mention managing to get it in the first place . . . and that I remembered to grab a coat, any coat, before I dashed out the door.  Now wasn’t that easy?  (To be fair, I probably will pay some mind to how closely my roots match the rest of my hair, but I won’t worry about it – worrying is how those roots came to need attention in the first place.)

Work
This is a big one for me.  For years, make that decades, I’ve worried about what I needed to get done at the office.  I’ve worried about doing the right thing, doing it really well, and making sure we all succeeded.  Doing those things made a difference – all that time I spent worrying about them never did.  So while I’ll continue to do them, I’m not going to worry about them anymore.  It’s my job; it’s not my life. 
                                      
The People I Love
Okay, now I’m going heavy duty.  Not worry about the people I love most in the world?  That’s heresy, isn’t it?  I don’t think so.  Do I care what happens to them?  Absolutely!  Do I want only the best and most wonderful things for them?  Fervently!   Is their welfare the most important thing in my life?  Definitely!  But will my worrying about them make a difference in the outcome of their lives?  No, it won’t.  Praying for them will.  Being available to them will.  Loving them unconditionally will.  But worrying about them won’t change a thing – and I have the wrinkles to prove it.  Here’s what I believe – God loves them more than I will ever be capable of and cares about their welfare more than I ever can.  Therefore, while I care immensely, I don’t need to worry (it does not, however, mean that I don’t need to pray).  Will I abandon them?  Never!  But will I wring my hands and fret when I think about what “could” happen to them?  I promise not to.  What a relief.  For me – and, I’m guessing, for them.

That’s my list.  What’s on yours?

     

4 comments:

strindl said...

Yay! You're back! Your writing brings a smile to my heart, Martha. And your pearls of wisdom in this post will keep me thinking about whether my own worries are worth worrying about. Thank you for giving me some perspective. BTW, I went out and bought a bottle of aspirin right after I heard your story last year. Still carry it around with me.

Carolyn Hansen said...

Your wit and wisdom have been missed. Welcome back!

Molly said...

Wonderful, Martha! You're a delightful writer, and a wise woman. I have been working on the "quit worrying" thing for years and am not quite there yet. Especially at 3 a.m. when I can't get back to sleep. Really, it doesn't help anyone, least of all me.

Looking forward to seeing you on Christmas Eve! So glad you and Joe are hosting us all, and still going strong with the party tradition. And I promise I won't even *notice* whether the napkins and placemats match.

Tony & Debbie said...

Martha...all of this reminds me of why it's so cool hanging out with you (and Joe, too). Thanks for sharing your gentle wit and your loving appreciation for the ironic side of life. Glad we're (sort of) related.

--Tony