from Early Warning by Jane Smiley

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She of course, had a catalogue of worries, but they couldn’t be boiled down to one single thing to avoid. In fact she was taken aback by Frank’s remark. Finally she said, “Don’t wait too long to go to Paris?” p 427

I worry. All the time. About everything. I am a champion worrier and if worrying were an Olympic sport I would be wearing several gold medals. It might even be time to figure out how to display so many of them. Would a display case do them justice? (insert joke about inability to even make a hypothetical decision here.)

There seems to be no shortage of things I can fret over and fixate upon. Once a worry reaches its end, another quickly comes to take its place. It’s like they hide out together in a dark secret place and rapidly multiply when my back is turned. Clearly they follow the same evolutionary logic as dust bunnies or dirty laundry.

I think “catalogue” is an accurate collective noun. Like a murder of crows or a pride of lions. As is often the case, putting a name to an entity allows some illusion of control. Maybe it would help to imagine my worries labeled and housed in a file cabinet of sorts. Maybe even a wooden card catalog. If only I could lock them in one of the drawers and forget about them. I don’t think they go away, they only lie dormant.

Right now I am still losing sleep over all of the events which will be taking place in the next six weeks. My anxiety meter has surely been cranked to 11. Then my car’s check engine light popped on for no reason yesterday. Instantly my brain started spinning out of control, figuring out when to get it in to the garage and how to pay for the inevitable repairs. Then there is the elderly dog and the piles of laundry… And.

Oh dear, it’s a wonder anyone is still reading these ramblings. I worry about that too. I often think about those of you who stop in here occasionally. How it should be a place of solace or connection, not just words on a screen. I think about the blogs I read and how it’s clear that they too worry and fret and wring their hands, but they post such beautiful, assured prose. It brings to mind an antique dining room table, sturdy yet intricately carved. These words feel more like a creaky, old card table I got at a yard sale. Careful what you set on it, it just might come crashing down. But maybe it can still serve a purpose, throw a cute cloth over it and the kids can sit there in a pinch at Thanksgiving.

When I slow down enough to think about the reason I write here, I realize that these posts do have a purpose. All the worries, all the words, they provide a slimy, fecund compost for everything else to grow. Amidst all of the unease and over analyzing, there are these hopes that push their way out. They may be illogical and unexpected as a flower in a sidewalk crack—but there they are.

If I can, I try to put it all into perspective and not let the negative thoughts run rampant. Easier for me to write it here than actually put it into practice. Sometimes I just need to step outside of my life for awhile and get off the hamster wheel. Tomorrow I’m going way for a few days to visit a friend. A little respite from my daily grind. While I am driving I’ll let my mind wander, maybe think about the next vacation. Make some plans for a trip farther afield. It’s been many years since I’ve been to Paris, perhaps it’s time to think about going back. If just for the chance to experience that light again.

One thought on “from Early Warning by Jane Smiley

  1. I hope you have a wonderful break…can let go of the worry for even a bit… and can start making plans for that trip to Paris (I want to go, too!). xo

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