I wanted to make a New Year’s resolution. It’s a new year and that’s what we do, right? So what would it be? Exercise? Lose weight? Eat more veggies and less chocolate?
Those are fine goals. I’ve made them all in the past and broken every one of them by February.
So this year I decided to raise the bar a bit for an even greater challenge. For 2018, I resolved (drum roll, please) to worry less.
Less than I do now. Which is plenty. I’m a mother and a nana. Worry comes with the job.
As a child, if I did something harebrained, as I often did, I’d get a lecture from my mother:
“You don’t see danger!” she’d say. “You have to watch for it! If you don’t see it coming, how can you keep it from killing you?”
That didn’t make sense, but it was hard to argue. Turns out, she needn’t have worried. With the arrival of my first child (and surely with my third) I learned to see danger in everything.
I once heard my eldest say to a friend: “If you tell my mom a plan, any plan at all, she’ll see three ways it can kill you.”
Not true. I never saw three ways. I saw two at the most. But the boy never saw danger at all. So I saw it for him. And for his brother and sister and everyone and everything I ever loved.
It’s hard, thankless work being a worrier. If you look for danger, it will find you. And it will blind you to joy and laughter and life.
Recently, I sat by a window looking out on Monterey Bay, worrying about my brother. Joe is blind and can barely walk. He lives alone and wants to keep it that way. I don’t know how long he can do it. Or how, if the time comes, I’ll get him to change it.
I was mulling all that over when I noticed across the bay a small white cloud hovering just above the shoreline. It appeared to be growing larger.
What could it be? A fire? An explosion? Some kind of toxic gas? Should I call 911? I ran to the window for a closer look. Then I laughed. The “cloud” was a smudge on the glass.
Most of what I worry about is like that “cloud.” It exists only in my mind. I make it “real” by dwelling on it. I let it rob me of peace by giving it a power it doesn’t possess. I live in dread of it, rather than letting it go.
I would like to stop worrying about things that aren’t real. Or that, even if they are real, I can’t do anything to change them.
Being a mother taught me to worry, but it also taught me this: There are some things I can fix and a lot of things I can’t. In the time I have left on this earth, I’d like to focus on the fixable and leave the unfixable to God.
How? Here’s my plan:
First, I’ll pray. I’ll give thanks for all my blessings and tell God about the unfixable things I’m counting on him to fix.
Second, I’ll sing. Singing is a great tonic for worry. Most any song will work, but here are my three favorite no-worry songs:
• A hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (“Tune my heart to sing Thy grace/ Streams of mercy, never ceasing/Call for songs of loudest praise.”)
• Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” (“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be alright.”)
• And William DeVaughan’s R&B classic, “Be Thankful for What You Got” (“Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac/ Gangsta whitewalls/
TV antennas in the back/You may not have a car at all/ But remember brothers and sisters/You can still stand tall/ Just be thankful for what you got.”
Finally, I’ll talk about the worry to a friend who’s good at cleaning smudges off windows and helps me see more clearly.
Pray, sing, talk, worry less and be happy. That’s my resolution.
Here’s wishing us all our best year yet. May our prayers be answered, our dreams come true, and may all our worries be smudges on a window. Happy New Year to you and yours.