Rejected taglines for this blog

June 15, 2006

Why cross that bridge when I come to it when I can worry about crossing it right now?

There are no dermatologists for worry warts.

I can't evacuate from the category 5 hurricane in my head.

Notice a theme? A tendency to worry, at times excessively, is one of the longest standing traits of my personality. I'm not sure when it started, but my guess is fairly early on. I remember a phase I went through around the first grade where every night before I fell asleep my heart would start pounding as I imagined down the list of horrible things that could happen during the night, including fire and robbery. I also remember being so freaked out by the environment unit in Mrs. McPhee's class that all the next summer I thought I could hear global warming (it sounded like a giant heating coil making a wah-wah noise). I was a classic example of a child who should not be allowed to watch the news. I had, and in many ways have, a hard time separating things that are happening far away from things that are happening to me. Even reading a tabloid headline about potential asteroid inflicted doom would stick with me for months.

My mom saw me for the worrier I was and was constantly on my case about it. She would encourage me to do things like get my name on the board and fall down while roller skating, with the theory that I would learn that none of these things mattered very much and weren't worth worrying about. She met with limited success.

Over time, I think I have just started to think of worrying as part of me, something about myself like brown hair and blue eyes. One afternoon when I was wandering around Exeter, England with my friends, we happened into a bookstore across the street from Exeter Cathedral. I found a wire rack stocked with a series of children's books called Mr. Men. There were lots of entertaining Mr.'s, such as Mr. Silly and Mr. Messy, but I only had eyes for Mr. Worry:

That book was a revelation. Finally, someone who thought just like I did. For example, Mr. Worry worries that he is going to run out of food, so he goes to the store. Then Mr. Worry worries that he has spent too much money at the store. Then he worries that the grocery bags are going to break as he walks home. This man gets me! I had never read such an accurate description of my daily life.

This might seem like a bad life, but once you get past a few ulcers and a little insomnia, it has its consolations. For starters, most of the things you worry about never happen. So you are constantly on a relief high. Also, worrying gives you delusions of grandeur and control, as if you have so much power that it must be your responsibility to worry and thereby influence the outcome. Control feels good. Bosses love people who worry, because we tend to pre-emptively go the extra mile so alleviate our worry about getting fired. It's a cheap hobby (if you don't count the ulcer medication).

Despite all of these perks, I do try to combat my worry wart complex from time to time. My most recent weapon is yoga, and some of things that my yoga teacher said over the past semester have started to think in. First off, she was big on being intentional with your thoughts and your energy. What you think about becomes reality over time, ie if you think "I can't do a headstand without the wall" every time you get down on the mat and give it a try, you probably won't. Makes sense to me. If I sit around telling myself that I'll never amount to much as a writer or other professional, that doesn't leave a lot of mental space for motivation to actually give it a try. She also said that everything we encounter becomes part of who we are, and that we should consciously seek out messages and stories that were positive, basically on the principle that you can find the good and the bad side in everything so why not find the good. That's old news. Here's what stuck with me–she said that if you choose to watch the news or read something depressing, you have to counteract it on a one-to-one basis with stuff that makes you happy. Just to have someone formulate it so bluntly. I don't think she was trying to say that we should ignore the bad stuff, just that we had a right to protect ourselves. How can we offer anyone anything if we are full of gloom? And who wouldn't be full of gloom after your average browse through the NY Times? Just this week I've learned all about rising crime in small cities and this scary mycobacteria stuff that you can catch from your shower, is really hard to diagnose, and can destroy your lungs as effectively as tuberculosis, besides the usual about the Middle East and Gulf Coast refugees. Add a nasty paycheck surprise and that 3-nil to the Czech Republic and Florida doesn't need Alberto, I've got their storm cloud right here. After I read stories like those and craft a few different bankruptcy scenarios, can I be blamed for losing sight of the fact that the same world that has car bombs and lung disease also has my husband, my family, my friends, my cats, the ocean, Veronica Mars… for the moment, at least, I'm trying to entertain the notion that knowing about these things is at least as important as knowing about those things.

Me, give up worrying? I think not. I'd be a boring blogger then. I think I'm just looking for a little bigger picture.


2 Responses to “Rejected taglines for this blog”

  1. Lauren Says:

    My favorite part: “This might seem like a bad life, but once you get past a few ulcers and a little insomnia, it has its consolations.” Yes, once you adjust to the excruciating stomach pains and mind-dulling exhaustion, it’s really a good time!

    Also, Veronica Mars makes everything better. If there’s anyone who knows not to sweat the small stuff, it’s her. Then again, that’s because her best friend was murdered, her dad lost his job, her mom ran off, and she was raped at a house party. Pretty much everything bad that could happen has happened, so why worry?

    And, as for the dog, I was bleeding only a little. The little mongrel only broke the skin. And he isn’t violent in general, he has just taken a violent dislike to ME.

  2. […] First is this piece (part of the episode “Say Anything”) in which “Michael Bernard Loggins, a developmentally disabled man in his forties, tried to battle his fears by listing them, and came up with a list 183 items long.” The piece is an actor reading directly from the list Michael Loggins came up with, which he eventually published in book form and then wrote another list, which also became a book. This piece stopped me in my tracks. First of all, I thought Mr. Worry was the only man who really understood me. I was wrong, because he might have well have been reading from my head. Just substitute “Friday Night Lights” for “Rugrats” as you listen and you will pretty much have a good idea of the things I worry about. Especially the part about the pigeons. And not only what he wrote hit home, but how he wrote it. His mangled grammar expressed the primal workings of fear better than anything most of us could come up with. I listened to it twice on Monday afternoon, and that night, as I got into the car to drive home, guess what was on the radio? A special pledge drive episode of TAL that included this very piece. Synchronicity much? Probably not actually, just proof that I am not the only one who has been affected by it deeply. […]

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