Recently I saw a report on a survey that specified how 40 percent of the things we worry about never come to pass, 30 percent are in the past and, therefore, out of our control (my least favorite phrase in the English language), 12 percent concern others, 10 percent are about sickness–either real or imagined– and 8 percent are actually worth worrying about.
If that percentage were a pie chart, I think I'd have several extra slices of actual worry.
Another similar report said "85% of the things we worry about never come to pass." I spend a lot of time worrying. If so much of that time has gone wasted, why am I compelled to continue pacing back and forth, convinced the worst lies on the horizon?
Part of me thinks it's the curse of the overactive imagination. The brain that refuses to be idle, instead paints despair on it's loneliest walls. And part of me is convinced this is our greatest defense mechanism: If we eliminate that consistent nagging, in the back of our minds, if we stop acknowledging the negative and things turn sour, we leave ourselves vulnerable to hurt. Not only that, but, isn't it our fault, then? In a world where we are far too quick to lay blame, and far too harsh on people, we are faster and crueler when it come to ourselves.
So, how do you rewrite the dialogue? Where is the finely faulted line-- and why do we, so often, teeter over it? And where do we go when when we don't know who else to blame? Or when the blame game's gotten old?
Weeks before all the biggest events (competitions, meetings, interviews, the first day of school) stress ulcers begin popping up all over my mouth. While not a visual malady (unless you're checking out my gum-line) it's a constant reminder that I don't know what's coming next. Plus, it hurts to smile.
Is that what Emo-teens say?
As I've grow older, I'd love to tell you my outlook has grown healthier. But it's still a work in progress.
Today, sitting in front of applications and deadlines and the kinds of personal statements that delve too deep, I can recognize I'm working. I can pray I'm progressing.
Today, I can only get myself to eat foods that are shaped like muffins. Luckily, my fridge is filled with muffins shaped foods, as if I knew I'd need to hide under a too-old-comforter and think too-old-thoughts.
As if I knew happy-shaped foods could make me happy. I think I'm willing myself to get there faster than my worrying will allow.
Growing up tastes like oatmeal. Good, unless too watery. And, right now, it's raining. So I'm happily inside. Happily watching letters scuttle productively into words. And, as time makes this home grow right before my eyes, I'm trying to accept that happiness is okay.
A very wise drunk friend recently told me that it's hard to accept happiness and maybe she's right. But I can accept worry.
Worry is a safe middle ground. That way, if we're wrong, we were just being cautious. And, if we're right, we knew all along.
But this version of my voice is so jaded. It's not full of the hope that I swear still saturates my vision, as I walk through the city.
Maybe I'm writing to warn you.
Maybe I'm writing to request your approval.
Maybe I'm writing to wish this worrying away.
Maybe it won't.
Maybe you can't.
Maybe some day.
I wake as Boro Park wakes. The bakery across the street is opening its doors, as that chocolatey babka wafts up to the window. Or, at least, I'd like to imagine that this is cause of morning. Usually, though, I've exhausted my ability to sleep. There is only so much unacknowledged work a brain can do before it seeks appreciation. When I'm awake we work in tandem: Arms clutching, eyes darting, legs running.
This morning they're quick.
We throw on the bare-clothing-necessity, feeling antsy.
I'm a firm believer that the soundtrack of my life will be made up of songs I already know. This morning, as the grey sky glared down at me; both angry for my early intrusion and bitter from yesterday where I paid it no mind, The Weepies whispered about how "The World Spins Madly On" in my ear. But I don't need the music to remind me that my life, alone, is irrelevant to the universe. Robin Williams passed away yesterday and we flick terms like "suicide" around, as if our tongues can justify such unhappiness. As if our tastebuds could understand what ceasing would be like. I think I know I don't want to die because I still want to taste tomorrow.
This morning, my daily Note from The Universe completely contradicted the calming quality of yesterday's mantra: "You are exactly where you're supposed to be." While I take all of these notes and horoscopes with a grain of salt, I think we open ourselves up to them most when we feel lost. With this giant gap in my world, between Columbia ending and my school year beginning, this month is full of reflection. And time to write. Which is both desired and desperation. No one knows the thoughts you hide quite like your brain does. So maybe I'm feeling a little lost. And maybe the universe, with all its wisdom isn't helping.
"So much more awaits you, Melissa. There'll come a day when you look back at where you've been and where you now are and call these your "warm up years."
You're so cute,
Is this meant to be comforting? Because this morning, all I want is a clue. My tea stash is dwindling, post-its piling up, and I've painted ten evil-eyes on my fingernails. Maybe this will ward off the devil. Or see something I cannot. Maybe I can channel the dormant wisdom that nips at my fingertips. And maybe they can say something I haven't yet.
Because I'm running out of words enough to keep my brain going, this morning.
I'm sure Boro Park wouldn't mind if I went back to bed.
But I would.
Our parents teach us to clean up after ourselves; to put our shoes back in the shoe basket, to organize our things. So I always kind of thought it was my duty to keep life from getting too messy. Keep moments in moment baskets and clean up after days that leave floors covered in flour and flurries and flowers.
The problem is life doesn't necessarily come with baskets or enough Container Stores to keep our mess from showing. And what happens when that very mess peeks through?
I don't really like messes. I have drawn a firm differentiation between chaos that is organized and disorganized. Chaos is a language I understand. Like muffin recipes and chord progressions. But mess is an extreme that I shy away from. It's the grey flecks between the black and white when, maybe, I just want something concrete. And, granted, concrete in its natural form dries grey. But that's merely a flaw in the natural order of things.
But maybe flaws don't have to be synonymous with mess. Age is teaching me the comfortability of setting up camp amidst the grey. The last year has made me painfully aware of how infallible we all are. It's much harder to consider yourself outside of the flaws when they're at eye-level. When they belong to you.
And maybe I'm acknowledging ownership for a few more containers than need be. Maybe this mess wasn't made by my hands alone but fingerprints aren't all-telling. I only know it's time to make amends with the dirt on my hands. Then find storage space enough to put the mess away.
For a tomorrow that's a little less messy.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.