If you know me, in person or via the internet, you may have a sense of my capacity to worry about things. Things big (Am I going to die alone? Who would come to my aid in an emergency?) and things trivial (What if I cause a pile up at the communion rail?) and every shade of seriousness in between.
I come from a family of worriers but I don’t think I truly appreciated this until recently. I had always felt that our capacity to care about others was a hindrance sometimes as we worried about their wellbeing. My brother has a few issues based on this. I asked him for help recently after a terribly bad day. He would, sadly, be my last rather than first resort because having his sister howling in his living room is merely a cause for further concern. We’re talking about someone who frets if I don’t text him that I’m home, having driven a few miles across town. So I don’t tell him about things that aren’t going well, because he’ll only worry.
My grandmother, apparently, worried herself ill over concern that a friend would be critical of a failed batch of scones. Hearing that story a couple of weeks ago was enormously helpful as it puts family context on the way I am.
It’s such an energy-sapping thing, though. Having thoughts about self and others going round and round my head takes up resources I’d rather use productively. I’ve never really got the hang of quiet meditation because there’s always such noise going on – in really bad times, I wish I could switch my mind off for a few days. I’ve envied those who are able to wander through life not caring, not minding about other people, not being aware of the effect they can have. I try to use the image of a little homunculus who has the job of keeping the top of my head free from intrusions, he’s constantly smoothing down the corners of the floor to stop thoughts escaping into the ’empty’space. I can’t pray without writing things down because there’s just so much going on. Best I can do mentally is imagine a picnic rug with all the issues on, label everything and show it to God.
I don’t have a solution. I can repeat Matthew 6 25-27 endlessly. I particularly like the Molten Meditation which was a frankly random purchase at a past Greenbelt – I had this on a loop on the plane back from New York last month. My friend Andrew repeatedly reminds me that worry is pointless. And yet, here I am, worrying about this blog post about worrying…