Worry. For some, it’s an occasional habit. For me, it’s a lifestyle.
I realize worry serves no useful purpose. Wise counselors, both past and present, tell me not to engage in this futile activity. Martin Luther is commonly quoted as saying, “Pray and let God worry.” In the Bible, Matthew 6:27 records Jesus chiding those who worry, asking, “Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?” I even have a sign on my living room wall advising me, “Why worry when you can pray?”
I am embarrassed to admit these statements wash right over me, with no discernible effect on my behavior. Sometimes I even read that sign and think, “Well, I can do both, you know.”
Nothing is too small or too large to become the focus of my concern. Here are a few of my favorites:
- I worry a bear might climb through my bathroom window if I leave it open at night.
- I worry about killer bees.
- I worry about space trash dropping out of orbit and falling on my head.
- I worry about late fees on my library books.
- I worry someone will stop by the house while I’m still in my pajamas.
- I worry a tree will fall on my house.
- I worry this list is getting too long and boring.
A few days ago, I read a news article describing how a large portion of a Florida resort fell into a sinkhole. Before I read that story, I had no idea something like that could even happen. Now I lie awake at night, unable to sleep and paralyzed by fear. I’m worried my home – with me and all my loved ones in it – will be swallowed whole and consumed by Mother Earth.
Sometimes – follow me closely here – I worry my worrying might bring about the very thing I am worried about. Self fulfilling worry, if you will. Then I worry when I can’t stop worrying about it.
In fact, all this focus on worry has caused me to second guess my decision to discuss it here. I paused moments ago to look up “worry” in the online dictionary, because I was seized with doubt – had I misspelled worry? Then I looked up “misspelled.” (I worry spell check won’t catch everything.)
It’s that bad.
Finally, I’m worried because I haven’t thought of a clever way to wrap this up. Luckily for me, this level of worry is impossible to maintain. For the most succinct explanation, take a look at this chart, which details the rise and fall of my worries over an unspecified period of time.
After reaching the apex of needless concern, my brain can’t handle the extreme stress any longer. In self defense, I immediately adopt an attitude of nihilist apathy…until the next worry comes along.
As a result, I can’t spend any more energy worrying how to end this post. I’m too busy worrying how to start the next one.