Not to worry

Wed. January 30, 2013 12:00 AM
by Bill Pritchard

How many times a day do you worry? From the big thing to the little bit; worrying seems to be something what we all excel at. If I were to give a list of things I am gifted in, worrying would most likely top that list. And, I'm worried about that.

Why do I naturally lean towords worry? What does the anxiety and strife provide me; that I would lend my time and effort to it? It's beyond second nature for me. In fact, I would say I worry as much as I breathe. Can you relate?

In the summer of 2012, I was lucky to travel, by boat, with my friend David Beal and his family throughout Europe. Having friends to travel with that you enjoy, is a rare find. David and his family are such friends! Every time we embark on a trip with them, I learn so much about myself. This trip was no exception. Of the many lessons, worry was the one I would be schooled in the most. They had no idea that their example would impact me .

At the beginning of our voyage, I arranged to meet up with David in Rome. He arrived a few hours earlier and was to meet me in the receiving area outside of customs. Well, there were about a thousand people waiting there, but I couldn't find David. Immediately I went into "What would David do?" mode. (WWDD)

I looked around the area for about ten minutes. With that, I turned my attention into finding a café table and looked into what tasty beverage I could order whilst waiting. No sooner did I do that, then up came David with smiles and revelry. There was nothing to worry about! This was the first of my lessons and a moment of personal pride. I didn't freak out in an unknown place; as I'm sure I would have been inclined to do. Little did I know, I was in store for more worry free education.

Our first meal together in Rome was at Taverna Trilussa, an obscure spot looking charming from the outside; like a brasserie on the inside. The wine was tasty and the company was perfect. I ordered what sounded like veal, but in fact turned out to be the brains of something. Not to worry, I learned the art of maneuvering food from my Sainted Mom. While avoiding the guts on my plate, David's Mom received a call. At the end of it, she said, "Well they didn't find it." this was to be one of the biggest teaching moments of my trip, and possibly my life.

David's Mom's new i-Pad slipped out of her bag while on the hotel transport bus. She had them looking for it, but they came up short in the search. I stopped repositioning my brains and instantly felt worry. "Oh well, at least I didn't have too much on it" she said. "We'll need to stop by a store and pick up some books." Her response blew me away!

Could it be the wine kicked in and she didn't realize that the expensive i-Pad had been lost? Did she have so much money that the loss was truly no big deal? Was she high!? She simply didn't seem to let this news affect her. While she went on with her meal, I became apoplectic in my head. What a tragedy! What loss! My trip is ruined for her. What could I do to alleviate her obvious buried grief?

Without warning I was snapped out of my faux-OCD moment by her comment. "It's just a thing." It's just a thing? Could David's Mom really be that chill about such a loss? I'm pretty sure she was unaware of my internal debate, but her responses changed me. If my friend Judy Beal could brush off this sort of loss; surely I could do the same, with less important worries and woes.

"It's just a thing." What a marvels reminder. An incredible outlook! Things are just things. Stuff. Why worry about them or let them ruin your day? What possibly could be gained in ascribing stress or anxiety to things? Judy's nonchalant approach was refreshing to see and learn from!

Further long in the voyage we were in a small coastal town and got off our chartered boat for the evening. We showered, and picked up supplies. Once back to the boat, I changed and then came up top for a spot of fellowship and gin. David had stepped away, so I held off making him a cocktail. When he returned, another lesson ensued.

"I couldn't find it." he said. I asked what he was looking for. "Oh I took off mine and Stephen's ring when I got in the shower, and forgot to pick it back up" At that instant, I felt horrible for my dear Bosom Friend; to lose such an important item as a commitment ring.

David was disappointed, but brushed it off with a forthcoming cocktail. Are you kidding me?! Clearly he was avoiding his feelings. I on the other hand felt devastated. I was so worried for him; his obvious denial, loss, and his inevitable conversation with his partner. I didn't know what to do, other than to down my drink and get up to make him one.

I stepped down into the boat as the conversation calmly turned to the latest book folks were reading. I honestly was lost, and selfishly ran to my bag to make sure my cherished rings were where they needed to be. Worry still overcame me, even after I found them in place. Then a thought popped into my head; what if I were to re-look in our cabin, to see if I could find David's ring. Thankfully, within a moment or two, I found it in the side pocket of David's dopp kit. I was so excited! Like finding my own treasure, I ran up to the top deck and shouted with joy. David and everyone smiled and thanked me for my efforts; going right back to their conversation and cocktails.

Did they not understand that the holy ring had returned home? What once was lost was now found. Was there no relief in the massive loss? My lesson was just about to conclude.

It turns out that I was the only one who experienced the great worry of loss. Later I commended David on his carefree attitude in the situation. His response was life changing. "Well, the ring may have been lost, but the memories and the man remain" That's it. There was nothing else; just the quintessential David Beal approach. A worry free; "There are greater things to be concerned with" response. The lesson was over.

I was left to wonder with him about more important things for us to worry about. If losing something as important as a commitment ring, wasn't a loss worthy of worry; what was? Is stuff so important? And again, what on earth is gained in worry, stress, and anxiety? These two teachable moments have had me thinking ever since.

Just a few weeks ago, I was given an opportunity to put what I've learned into place. When I got home from being out and about, I noticed that my wallet was no longer with me. Within a millisecond, fear and worry came to my mind. Thankfully, "What would David do?" mode followed just as quickly. I could even hear his voice in my head. "Well, that's too bad. We'll have to deal with that in the morning." With that I went right to sleep and dealt with it the next morning.

How about you, do you worry too much? Have things, big and small, gotten in the way of what's really important in life? What is important to you? Could it be we need to tweek our priorities a bit? Changing a lifetime of habitual worrying may be a hard habit to break, but let's be committed to responding differently.

Mind you, we shouldn't worry about it too much.


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