I’ve learned a lot about worry this past few months.
Haven’t you? I think we all have.
When this pandemic hit, and we all had to lock ourselves away, the worry in the air was like a physical thing you could cut with a knife.
The entire world changed seemingly overnight for all of us.
I was worried.
I was terrified.
Every night I would go to sleep and wonder if the growing hellscape that was being predicted would engulf me, like I was reading it was doing to so many others, especially our brothers and sisters downstate.
I was worried about my health, even though I was healthy.
I was worried about how my family would be taken care of if this monster virus was to get ahold of me.
I worried about the security of my job, my paycheck.
I worried about how we would be able to navigate this historic crisis without a functioning federal government.
I worried that if they were out of toilet paper, what would the next shortage be.
I worried about all of these things even though intellectually I knew that in all likelihood I would be okay.
The odds were in my favor, and quite honestly, none of this was in my control.
There was a time, when the worry was consuming me, and I had trouble being present for anything else other than attaching to thoughts of worry.
It was so bad I couldn’t even be present for my son on our afternoon neighborhood walks.
I was taking my temperature 10 or more times a day.
I was sure every cough I had was the first sign of the plague.
Now we find our entire nation rising up against injustice spurred on by a fascist president and his enabling party, and some of that can be pretty ugly, revolutions always are.
These are times of great worry. It’s natural to feel scared right now/
What is worry anyway?
Worry is that monkey mind of yours throwing road blocks in all directions that keep you from being at peace with whatever it is you are doing.
Yeah, this virus is a beast, the injustice and racism is a beast, but so is worry.
For me, I did two things. I reached out to a Zen teacher I have known to discuss worry, and to make some adjustments to my mediation routine and how my problem was all related to thinking. (zazen, look it up, it’s really useful, I could go on for days..) I won’t bore you with all that but if you’re interested please feel free to reach out.
Another thing I did was cut out the last remaining intoxicant of my life. That being cable news. The constant barrage of bad news, the running death toll. The steady stream of dread and misery, both real and imagined by speculation. The images of refrigeration trucks in Queens to hold the deceased, the makeshift hospital in the park where caregivers were expected to sign pledges of hate against my LGBTQ friends before they would be allowed to take care of sick people, it all just added to my misery.
And here we are now with the threat of armed troops being used against citizens.
And the drumbeat of worry is beaten into us on 24 news channels constantly.
I want to be informed, not overwhelmed.
So I stopped watching so much cable news and did a lot more sitting. Just sitting.
Worry is a thing that, if you let it, can be as dangerous as any virus.
Worry is your mind out of control and it does nobody any good.
What I was doing was giving up TODAY, for tomorrow.
All we have is now. This day, this hour, this minute, this breath. We have now.
To be anywhere else, but here, now, is inviting suffering and giving back the gift of today.
Be here now. Be ONLY here now.
Worry keeps us from being and doing.
Worry is not useful.
Worry gets in the way of action, sometimes needed action.
Meher Baba knew that, and Bobby McFerrin made a number one song about it.
The great Bob Marley knew it.
Sam Proia of Cooled Jets knows it too.
Just listen to the new single, “There There”
The thing is, it’s not what he thinks it is, and it may not be what you think it is either.
I mean yeah, it’s one catchy as hell crunchy, alterna-pop song meant originally to hype himself up as he battles awful stage freight, it IS that, but it’s more than that.
Given the collective PTSD we are all dealing with at the current moment and beyond, it’s a song for all of us.
But it’s more than that, it’s a meditation, an intention, a prayer if that’s your thing.
Worry, do’t be so worried
It won’t make you any taller
might even make you smaller
than you ever were before
I can promise to you
there ain’t nothing that you thought through
that’s worth thinking again
won’t make your car run better
won’t move you from under the weather
won’t make your hair grow longer.
It’ll never make you strongerThere There by Cooled Jets
It’s a sweet song, and offers a lesson we all need to learn and keep in mind even when this dark period is history is over.
Don‘t worry, it just gets in the way of living, of acting.
Be here now, be only here now.
And don’t allow worry to cripple you.
“There There” can be found at the Cooled Jets Bandcamp Page
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