I finally understand. Worrying is unnecessary. This can be tough to believe for those of us raised by well-meaning worriers. We’ve learned to ask, early and often, “What if (insert catastrophic event) happens??” and then imagine it happening, and then worry about it happening in slow-motion Technicolor detail.
But that’s the funny thing about worrying — it’s not really about figuring out what to do if that terrible thing, whatever it is, happens. Our worries never really go past the catastrophe, which we replay in our minds, adding new themes, variations, outfits, whatever.
In real life, when a catastrophic event does occur, there isn’t time to worry. We just deal with it. We do our best to address whatever’s happening at the time. We take the steps that seem most appropriate to take. And if another catastrophe comes on the heels of the first, we do it again.
So here’s my real life example. Ever worry about what would happen if your car died in the middle of a busy highway? Well, it happened to us on Saturday. And this is what we actually did.
My sweetheart wondered aloud why the steering and brakes weren’t working. And then why the engine was completely dead. (Salty language may have been involved.) I reached over to find the hazard lights and put them on. We managed miraculously to pull over to a narrow shoulder on the left. We were on an elevated split on the highway with a retaining wall smack up against the car. Traffic going over the Mississippi Bridge was beginning to back up and moved slowly to the side of us.
I called the insurance company (we have towing included – yay!) I listened to music while on hold. We marveled at the crowds entering the Superdome for the Final Four – we had a great view! The nice woman on the phone finally came on. It took a very long time for her to figure out where we were, after lots of describing. She said she’d call us back when she found a tow truck. We waited. We rolled down the windows and sweated while the car heated up. We debated getting out or staying in – there was nowhere to go and get clear of the car. We drank water and ate snacks (we’d been coming home from an overnight getaway, so we had lots of yummy food in the car!)
We commented on how lucky we were. We chatted. We watched the traffic speed up and tried not to cringe as giant trucks whizzed by at lightning speed, shaking the car. We waited. We held hands. We recapped the weekend. We wondered if the nice woman would ever call back. Finally, we got a call from a robot telling us the tow truck would arrive within 40 minutes.
We waited some more. My sweetheart made the mistake of looking in the rear view mirror, where he could see the cars making last second adjustments to avoid us. We sweated some more.
Notice that there’s nothing about worrying? Even with the waiting, we weren’t worrying. The catastrophic event had already happened, and there we were, still living. And the tow truck eventually came and all was well.
Except it wasn’t. Our car’s engine has a cracked something. It’s dead. It’s nine years old and now we need to think about getting a new car. This wasn’t really in our plans.
There it is: catastrophic event number two.
Except it doesn’t feel catastrophic. We are fine. We are healthy. We are surrounded by love. We will do our research and eventually get another car. (Extra perk – it will be clean!)
And worrying really isn’t part of what’s going to help us address any of it.
I’m not saying I never worry, but it seems much less of an appealing choice anymore (and it is a choice!) What about you? If you used to be a worrier and have learned to worry less, how did you do it? Share your story in the comments – let’s all enjoy more worry-free living!