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Thursday, October 2, 2008

We Don’t Worry About That

Every now and then, when the pace at work leads me to wonder about the tensile strength of the 27th floor windows, I remember what my Grandma used to say.

“Oh, Pearl. We don’t worry about that.”

And then I put down whatever I was going to throw through them and take a deep breath.

It’s hard not to despair, at times, with the multitudinous ways there are to fret. War, the declining dollar, religious zealots, the frivolity and gossip of the insanely wealthy. What can we do? We get involved, we speak our minds, but the truth is that many of us are not in a position to do anything about anything but ourselves, so why get upset?

Unless, of course, you’re an airplane pilot or a doctor. Or a farmer. Or in charge of Quality Control or something… Then, yeah. You have responsibilities.

I, for example, while no doubt a Valued Employee, have little to do with the day-to-day running of anything but my own life. If I am incompetent at work, the worst that happens is someone misses a meeting or a flight or a letter goes out with a typo. Note that I say “if I am incompetent”. While making an error has yet to happen to me – Ha! Ha! – I imagine that it would be rather embarrassing; but nothing truly bad, other than eventually losing my job, would come of it. Pay attention to what you're doing, of course, and strive to do better; but there's no point in getting yourself all twisted up about it.

And that, I think, is what one needs to focus on: no, not my unbridled conceit regarding my own competence, but the idea that we can change only what we can change and that we must keep ourselves together without, as we say in my neck of the woods, freaking out.

Here’s the beginning of the list of things that I’ve discovered are not worth freaking out about:

  1. Love interests. They either want you or they don’t. Anything else is an excuse.
  2. Traffic. Come on! You knew there was a possibility of rampant stupidity on the roadways! Hum your favorite tune and sit back and watch the humanity. People are fascinating.
  3. Saying “no” when you need to. So many people cannot say “no”, as if to do so is unfriendly or selfish. It’s okay to think of the self!
  4. Gray hair. Color it in accordance with the seasons/holidays! Whatever you do, it’s going to grow out; and if it doesn’t grow, well, now you have something new to worry about.

OK. That’s all very well and good, but what about those little things that put us over the edge? Is it okay to freak out about those? For example:

  1. People who endlessly repeat themselves. I have a friend who repeats everything he says a number of times. He says he does it because people don’t really listen. What he doesn’t realize is that people don’t listen to him in particular because he’s constantly saying the same things.
  2. Loading a printer for labels only to find someone else’s e-mail printed on them. It’s too big an office to yell “Labels!” once loaded, and running from the printer back to my desk is undignified for, uh, a person in my position.
  3. People who “butt” in line. I know you can see that there’s a line! Don’t tell me you don’t understand!
  4. People who endlessly repeat themselves.
  5. People who forgot where their blog was going…

The war? All wars? Yes, freak out to those who can do something about it. Write. Go to rallies. Vote.

Inflation? Don’t spend what you don’t have. Tighten your belt and think about getting a second (or third) job.

But that guy in front of you in traffic, the one with his blinker indicating that he’s chosen to go “left” for the last, oh, 30 miles? Let it go.

And check your own blinker.


Kavi said...

I guess i read something around 'circle of concern' and 'circle of influence' ! While we can be concerned with a whole world, we perhaps can have influence over a limited set !

And the chap with blinkers on for 30 miles...i agree with you : let him go !

As your gradmom said : we dont worry about that !!

Lilly's Life said...

I agree Pearl. I think there are lots of worried people around at the moment and we have to take personal responsibility for what we can control and then just throw our hands up and say what will be will be.

However, I think now is the time that we should all support one another to in more ways than we may ahve done before. Whether that means just more inspirational talk like your post, a helping hand, some ideas to cut costs, whatever. I read the other day of this tip that a woman uses when she worries. If she cannto solve the problem immeditately she writes it on a piece of paper and puts it in a drawer. Every week she goes back to the drawer to relook at whats there and sure enough a lot of the peices of paper she can toos because the worries have resolved themselves. Great post and wise grandmom too!

Pearl said...

Hi, Kavi!

I like that. The limited set.
I like that.


Hi, Lilly.

The scrap of paper idea is so simple and so smart. And I'll bet it works. Pick up anything you wrote about in high school. Ha!


Eva said...

very insightful. it seems we are facing similar dilemmas. (see my latest entry). so ill give you the advice i am giving myself (and trying my best to take!)...take a deep inhale. exhale. none of it matters. none of it's real. (by it, i mean all that is external). so as you are saying, let it go. focus on what is real. your true Self. the one universal lifeforce that we all possess and share.

Adrian said...

I like this philosophy. I'm a big-time worrier of the lay-awake at 4:00 AM variety. I may need to write this down to read at such times.

"We just don't worry about that".

Here's one of my favorites that I keep on my quote wall at work:

"If worry had the power to help, I'd worry 24 hours a day and I'd ask you to help me. But it won't."