I have a long list of things I would like to change about myself, and I’m not just talking about my physical appearance. I would love to have a good singing voice, and not to be quite so afraid of heights, and I wish that I had a better memory, especially for names. But if I could change just one thing about myself, I would choose to stop worrying so much. Because the fact is that I worry pretty much all the time, about almost everything. And it doesn’t do me one bit of good, because the stuff I worry about rarely happens, and the bad things that happen in my life are usually things I didn’t see coming at all.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent the weekend with our family at my brother-in-law’s lake house, and on our first night there, we all piled into his boat for a “sunset cruise” which we enjoyed very much. It was dark when we returned to the dock, and my brother-in-law warned us all to be careful stepping out of the boat because the dock could rock a bit.
Being me, I immediately worried that I would drop my cell phone in the lake, and so I clutched it tightly as I carefully put my right foot on the deck. Thankful that I had been able to maintain my balance, I quickly swung my left foot out and placed it, inadvertently, in a gap between the two parts of the dock. My foot and lower leg plunged into the water, but my fall was stopped abruptly and painfully by my upper thigh, which was too big to fit through the gap. It was the first time in my life that I was actually thankful for my chubby thighs.
I had worried that I would drop my cell phone (which I had brought along so I could take pictures of the lake) in the water, and that didn’t happen. Even as I was suspended with one foot on the dock and the other foot in the lake, I still managed to hang on to my phone. It never crossed my mind that I might actually put my foot through a gap in the dock, even though that’s exactly what did happen. Once again, I had wasted a lot of emotional energy worrying about all the wrong things.
That’s why I am making a very dedicated effort to stop worrying so much. It’s not that I’m going to pretend that everything is always going to be fine and that nothing bad will ever happen, because I know better than that. All of us have hard times in life, and all of us will experience our share of accidents and tragedies. But constantly worrying about what could go wrong does nothing to prevent bad things from happening, and only serves to put too much focus on the negative aspects of life.
So I think what I need to do is learn to take sensible precautions, (such as the “mind the gap” signs I saw on the Irish Railway, warning passengers to beware of the gap between the train cars and the platform), but stop obsessing about every single thing that could possibly go wrong in any given situation. Because life is too short and precious to waste it worrying about what might go wrong, when I could be enjoying all that is going so very right.