Don’t Waste Your Life in Worry

From time to time, I like to do nothing but sit and think.

I can’t do it very often. And that’s not because I don’t have the time to – I most certainly do – but because my mind generally spends every moment from morning to night sprinting from one place to the next to the next to the next and “doing something” helps slow it down.

Well, I have no idea how much wine I drank last night – it was my birthday party – but it was enough to ensure that I felt pretty slow this morning, even after my ADHD medication and a couple of espressos. I managed to write my morning pages in the loft, humming along to Station to Station, and when I was done with that, I wanted to do nothing but sit and think. It was very pleasant.

And I don’t know why, but what I kept returning to was what a chronic worrier I have been, basically forever – as well as I might hide it. I thought about all the different things I have spent days and weeks and months and sometimes years dreading, anticipating their coming true in a state of absolute terror. I thought about all the cool things – both big and tiny – that I have stopped myself from doing because “what if…?”

And then a realisation came that made me both smile and frown at the same time: None of the things that I can vividly remember spending a lot of time worrying about have ever actually come true.

That made me sit up. “Nah,” I thought. “That can’t be. Surely… oh… actually, maybe… Jesus, it’s true.”

Every second I have ever spent worrying about anything has been a complete fucking waste of my time. Every. Single. Second.

I felt ashamed. I was given this gift of life. I don’t know how many Gods my soul had to sleep with to get me here, and then what do I go and spend a load of it doing? Smelling the flowers? Savouring my time? No. I was busy obsessing over how woe-is-me it would be if something “bad” were to happen in a future moment, over which I have no control.

Well, I don’t know how to break this nasty habit, and I suspect it is something I will be working on until the day I die, but I’m committed to the effort.

Because – and maybe I’m wrong – I very much doubt that when I am about to kick it, and I’m laying there on my death-bed, wearing old-timey pyjamas replete with one of those floppy hats, that I’ll be thinking “Oh, man, I wish I’d spent more of my life worrying about all that stuff that didn’t end up happening anyway…”

“It’s ruinous for the soul to be anxious about the future and miserable in advance of misery, engulfed by anxiety that the things it desires might remain its own until the very end. For such a soul will never be at rest – by longing for things to come it will lose the ability to enjoy present things.”

Seneca – Moral Letters

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