Lost Car Keys
Dear Toastmasters, honored guests, and those of you whom are inevitably quivering in your seats out of unharnessable anxiety:
Monday night, 1 a.m., after finishing my laundry at the Tiburon laundry mat, I could not find my car keys. I was isolated, on a Spring’s Eve, a block from the waterfront.
My pants kept falling off because my belt was stolen. They were dangling atop my shoes, as if I was on the can. My car was locked and I was stuck, with my clean laundry bag propped up against the trunk. I looked everywhere, but I tried not to panic. I tried to remind myself that this tune shall pass. I invoked the unstoppable demeanor of three personas from my novel, The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter. It was an epic conjuring of sorts. http://www.amazon.com/The-Ascent-Barbarious-Court-Squatter/dp/146370898X
An hour later, I found the car keys-- in my BACK pocket. Who would have “thunk,” right? Throughout the ordeal, I calmly kept thinking, “In due time...”
Things We Worry About
While sometimes we worry about dilemmas as benign as forgotten keys in our pocket, on occasions our worries are grounded in some of the more pressing survival concerns of life and death: When will a drone strike on American soil? When will there be a nuclear holocaust? When will a careless, few centimeters maneuver on the highway send my car and its contents to the scrap metal dump, ahead ( virtually severed) of schedule? When will a tsunami permanently displace my beach lounging?
Will I have the opportunity to fulfill some or most of my life and spiritual goals, as well as my dreams? When will this tumultuous adventure we have the privilege to undergo called life, with potential for the fantastic and surreal, abruptly end? Why will I be unaware of this untimely conclusion until my final breath?
When will my worrying cause me to have a crummy day? When will a series of crummy days (on account of incessant worrying) amount to a crummy totality of experience? And when will this jaded perspective terminate prematurely due to the pervasively, harsh crumminess of it all?
I would like to explore answers to the following two questions about worrying:
Are Chronic Worriers "Warriors"?
Yes... We do battle... with ourselves, that is. We don’t don impenetrable armor to deflect stress, but worriers certainly have plenty of thoughtful reserves. Worrying scares people into accomplishments and detriments, big and small. Please consider the rise and decline of every civilization since humankind graduated from neanderthal status.
A Funny Anecdote About Neanderthals and Hippopatamus'
Let me qualify that. Even neanderthals experienced the flight or fight syndrome, if not fully developed, irrational thoughts that repeatedly hammer the cranium:
“Mmmm... Me hungry. No ‘In-n-Out Burger’ here. No destination... let alone, no way of life! Cavewoman wants to eat me!!! Running out of time. Look, yonder! Hippopatamus stick head out of water. Me spear hippopatamus’ head!!! Happy sinking, Hippo! No more hungry. Cavewoman drops spear intended for my belly. She still jumps on top of me--but in far less hostile way!”
Why We Should Worry Less
Perhaps neanderthals were more grounded than modern humans because worrying, in excess, is absolutely irrational and usually counter-productive. While worrying can be an instigator of positive change, it is gut-wrenching and accomplishes zero end in itself except nervousness in the present about the past or future. Whatever happened about focusing on now instead of “what if” or “what was?” Let us create present solutions rather than unnecessarily dwell on the bad.
A Partial Solution to Worrying
Even if an irrational worry is based on a potentially negative outcome, why do we not simply sever ties with the stress associated with the dire need to act and simply do whatever is necessary to right matters. We can limit the worry to merely the initial premonition and then proceed accordingly and forthrightly, without straining as much.
Negative Effects of Worrying
Excessive worrying hastens our demise by causing wrinkles, cancer by unleashing free radicals, and heart and brain explosions. So, isn’t it more rational to become streamlined, fearless warriors determined to do what needs to be done and claim what is rightfully ours--without internally smacking ourselves upside the head? Are we on the same page, fellow Toastmasters?! ....Aye!!!
We are all warriors grappling with life’s thwarts, whether those hindrances are self-inflicted while we simultaneously hope to tear them down or we take out the problem in a more streamlined fashion.
Yet, in spite of any ill effects, worrying is comforting, like the numbing contentment of floating on a quadruple shot of espresso that leads to a quadruple bypass.
More About Hippos
When it all comes down to it, I hear rotisserie Hippopatamus meat tastes pretty darn good, whether or not a thrust spear initiated the dining process. (My Mom used to take us to a a cafe on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco called Hippo Burger, where they served hamburger patties in between ice cream sundaes. Scrumptious together, with the solo sundae, or with only the burger a la melting, ice cream runoff! For some reason that I cannot fathom, Hippo Burger went out of business years ago! Even though the hippo burgers were not kosher, I do not think the establishment went belly-up because of the contrast between the ice cream and the hamburgers-- a rather ingenious and tasty concoction.)
Do Chronic Worriers Cure Themselves?
The answer to this question is two-fold: Sometimes we accomplish by lighting ourselves on nervous fire, like an “angst channeler.” But we resume worrying, as fervently as if the initial obstacle was not even surmounted. Different obstacle, same worry. Repeat the torture ad nauseum!
Is There a Common Cure for Repetitive Nervousness?
Yes. Finally we die! And 100 years from now, not only will the cumulative worrying from our entire lifetimes be in vain. No one will even worry about us, whether or not they now do.
The Incessant Worrying of Concerned Family Members
It is second nature for parents to worry about children. I love my mom very much, even though I have difficulty befriending her as a person, beyond the child/maternal bond. Because I have led an unorthodox life, I am not convinced that she wishes to open up with me, even if I ever realize that I am capable of doing so. I know she loves me because she is kind enough to help me, without me asking, when I cannot help myself. I just wish she could take a break from the neurotic realm of chaos embattlement. I would like to see her full of awe and wonder at life’s promising playpen. Mom, for G-d’s sake, take a “rainbow pill” and invite me home for breakfast!
How Do We Get Past Worry and Live Happy Lives?
In my autobiographical novel, The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter, available on Amazon.com and Kindle.com, I distinguish four personas within consciousness. We may adopt character traits for humanity’s best chance to surmount adversity as well as the accompanying worries. The Eghost, Jacque D’Artichoke, G-d, and Sir Arthur Stackerazz vie for dominion over the self in a rhetorical bout for first, second, third best, and worst chance to overcome our demons. Different personas are better suited to tackle various problems. Learn to shed negative anxieties that impede success. We were all born to transform. http://www.amazon.com/The-Ascent-Barbarious-Court-Squatter/dp/146370898X
Examples of Winning Over Worry
For example, surviving the draining and constantly cringing “gruelfest” of law school. Or, gutting oneself through a 20-year, cooperative and cut-throat tennis competition, wherein brute strength, coordination, agility, and aesthetics force death (yet, only for the duration of the lone tennis match’s remembrance).
F.Y.I.: I did not forget my clean laundry, after all! One more worry turned comfort!