I spend a lot of time worrying about things: finances, my health, my work, my family. Yet I know perfectly well that worrying is the most useless and unproductive activity in which we can engage. It’s a complete waste of time because it isn’t even based on “reality” since many of the things we worry about will never actually come to pass. In fact, ninety percent of the time they don’t, at least in my life.
I’ve gotten better lately in the sense that I am learning to step back and “catch” myself in the act, even observe myself ramping up emotionally for a good obsessive worry session where I’m making the situation worse than it really is by projecting all kinds of horrors and things that haven’t yet happened onto it.
I’ve also noticed, fortunately, that I can call upon a really quirky sense of black comedy when I’m down-shifting into full self-pity. For example, the other day when I was frizzing with worry in full drama queen mode, I found myself actually laughing, telling a good friend that there are three kinds of people in the world.
First there are “Those to Whom Nothing Ever Happens.” They just drift along in a state of denial or boring imaginary happiness. Who would want to be them? Not me, I’d rather be foaming at the mouth from worry.
At the other extreme are “Those for Whom Nothing Ever Goes Right.” I don’t really understand this group, but they seem to be perpetually f**ked. I assume they must be working out a lot of Karma. I’m just grateful not to be one of them.
Then there’s the group to which I belong, “Those to Whom a Whole Lot of Shit Happens Far Too Often, But Somehow Divine Help Always Arrives.” I quite honestly feel that I get way too much of my share of unexpected challenges, but the strange and wonderful part is that once disaster strikes, the heavens open up, choirs sing, and guardian angels, my own personal Divine SWAT team, come rushing down just when I really need them.
As I’m learning to witness, cope with, and defuse my fits of worry and anxiety—and God knows I have very good reasons to feel anxious with all I’ve gone through in the last year—I’m also learning to watch for the resolution—the miracle. And it always comes. I get help, I feel loved, something totally unexpected happens. I don’t have all the answers after all. What a surprise! There’s Doors 1, 2, and 3, but then there’s also Doors 4 through infinity. Who knew!?
Divine Swat Team in Action
For example, the other day I went up to start my car and found that the last person to start it for me the day I got home from the hospital had left the door ajar. The dome light had been on for three days and the car would not start. I was beside myself because I figured I had just barely enough money to pay my health insurance that month, and to give a down payment of $318 to the doctor who will perform the procedure to restore my paralyzed vocal cord on Monday. I also had to drive myself to my gallbladder surgeon’s office the next day so that his RN could examine the four incisions from my recent surgery. So I had to get the car working again somehow. Normally, I would just have borrowed my uncle’s extra car until I could get some extra cash together, but he was up in Hollywood that week in an apartment provided by Kaiser so that my 81-year-old aunt could receive radiation therapy following her surgery for breast cancer. And I was still weak from my own surgery, so I really preferred crawling into bed to dealing with all of this. A neighbor I got in touch with to ask for help said her husband had jumper cables, but that he didn’t like to use them because “other things could go wrong with the car” (What?!)
So, as you can see, there was lots of world-class worry material present in that situation. Added to that was the refrain running through my head, “Why me? Hasn’t enough happened already this week? May I please have a break for a couple of days, just a short breather?”
Switching to a Different Perspective
All I could do at that point was to switch gears and begin trying to look at everything from a different perspective. As a dear friend says, “Women are strong. We can always do what needs to be done.” Although I had been putting off renewing my Auto Club membership, I called them up and renewed over the phone. I asked them to please send a fellow with jumper cables to get my car started. Normally, these things take forever, but ten minutes later, he arrived. Unfortunately, he pronounced my battery completely dead. But he had a battery (with a three-year replacement warranty) that would fit my car tucked away in his van and he would install it for me. The entire thing took less than fifteen minutes and only cost me $114.00, less than a trip to a mechanic.
I suddenly remembered that my step mom, Sandy, and brother Tommy had sent me a Christmas card with $100 in it, so the battery was, in essence, already paid for before I even had to replace it. That was a minor miracle. And, honestly, as a single woman whose car has over 100,000 miles on it, I need to belong to the Auto Club. It’s just common sense, a safety issue. As for the battery, it was the original one that came with the car and I think I’d been keeping it going with magic and prayers to Asphalta, the Automotive Goddess, so I needed to get a new one anyhow before it died on me someplace really inconvenient.
It will be tight, but I will be able to afford my health insurance payment this month and the ENT doctor’s down payment on Monday. There are some other funds out there in the bush, and I know that money will come in on time, when I really need it.
But the point is, it’s always like this. A challenge arises. I begin to worry. I swallow my tongue and spin counter clockwise 360. But why put myself through that? Help always comes. Where did we learn to worry in the first place? Is this some kind of cultural dysfunction, something we ingested with the idea of Original Sin?
A poet once said something like the following: We are beheld, beloved, and always cared for. And we are.
It takes practicing greater courage, faith, surrender, and imagination, but I’m making progress. I’m even starting to feel a little silly when I worry, knowing how self-indulgent it is because I truly have caught a glimpse of that magnificent Universe out there, which is 100 percent on our side and just waiting to help us. Lately, I’ve even been making it part of my practice when a challenge arrives in my life to say, “Thank you, God, for giving me one more chance to witness how much you love me and how you will always take care of me.”
There is always enough of everything we need. We have armies fighting on our side, both human and supernatural. You can relax now. Peace be still.