The Worry Quota
Worry is not a 'helpful' thing.
Akin to speculation, worry is a way to live out the worst of all your fears.
But the daydreams that fuel your personal worry--you make them. You fill in the equation with all your own demons and watch the images play out, horrified.
But that's not really how life works out, is it? Life is not a horror show of relentless demons.
In among the tragedy, there is strength. There is kindness. There is tireless commitment to helping those who can't help themselves. There is speechless beauty that we're more open to than ever, having processed grief, or sickness, or suffering. There is even laughter.
Before this pandemic and epic lockdown, before so many jobs were lost, and before the world started wearing masks and gloves, I probably spent about 5-35% of my day worried.
Chiefly, I worried about money and 'not being good enough', both eased by getting out and doing work.
Now, my worry quota begins around 20%. The world around me seems to hover between 50-80% worried--about money, about getting sick and losing loved ones, about isolation and disconnection, about job loss and feeling useless, about government mismanagement, about kids out of school, about the collapse of the world as we know it--pick your worry; we're all feeling it.
But, giving into worry is our least helpful state: in chasing after that elusive red balloon of what could happen, we forget to simply look at the ground beneath us and tread carefully, one step at a time. I'm not talking about belittling the science and facts in order to divert worry and therefore resources to other endeavors. I'm talking about staying informed and vigilant, without overwhelming ourselves with what if's.
We simply cannot know what truly lies ahead. And we have been gifted precious, unbound time with ourselves, to slow down and be present with what and who is really important. We wake up, more aware of our dreams than ever. We appreciate our home and meals differently. We loosen the time limits on phone conversations. We feel less compelled to buy things as we scroll through internet platforms, and more compelled to make something: a drawing, a craft, a baked good, a dance, a cover of the tune in our head. We have simpler, more omnipresent gratitude for such small things: the leaves of our plants, the stories in our books, the softness of our blankets, the rituals in our morning coffees and evening showers, our favorite socks, our favorite window, our favorite movie. Today, Shane and I walked out of our small corner grocery store with a few things, and a woman in line had a shirt that read: "Let the Good Vibes Roll", which caused a dive into song titles and catchy throwback hooks. That woman's shirt expanded the music appreciation of our entire day--as we're still referencing everything from The Cars to Shirley & Lee.
In the slowing down, and the filling of time with something other than worry, we begin to count our blessings. We begin to gravitate towards stories of deeper community and heroism. We begin to sit with the unknown and just allow it to unfold. We don't force it into thought boxes of personal catastrophe. We feel our aliveness, our never fully dealt with traumas, and our own hearts. We feel the energy in our relationships--all our loved ones who are trying their best.
We feel the holding down of hope, kindness, and tireless strength, despite so many things to worry about, and that's when we realize: the worry quota wasn't helping us.
Check out: This Facebook Post By Jann Arden