For a nice long time, we’ve had something to hold onto. And by “we,” I mean those of us who take seriously our role as worriers. Sure, we could blithely go about our days. And, yes, it’s true that very little is accomplished vis-à-vis Hillary’s poll numbers by my getting a stress-induced tummy ache.
Nevertheless! I absolutely reject the idea that I should be one of those unconcerned souls, like my cousin in-law, who told me, “Why gnaw your arm off about it?” She said this over a soft-serve outside Dairy Queen, while also bantering with her kid. For shame!
To think that she can live her life smiling, never bothered by attacks of crippling anxiety, the tendency to shout and rave at loved ones or the proclivity to hyperventilation. What kind of example is she setting? Is her husband embarrassed? I would be.
“Volunteer!” people say. Do they understand nothing at all? If the American people can’t make the right choice without my help, what’s even the point? Also, I’m not even sure I want Hillary to win. So why would I volunteer? This is about feeling the deep unrest and corruption (yes, corruption) that we as a society are experiencing and transmuting it into a personal and diffuse unease that tags me as someone burdened by the sad knowledge of our collective failing.
Worriers know: we must share the most distressing bits of news each day. The world at large needs to understand how shitty it is. We take to Twitter hourly, we’ve posted in-depth discourses on Facebook – we’re doing our part. I even brought up the latest news on bee colony collapse to my barista, who was confused by my order of a sugar-free Italian soda, which is really just a Perrier.
Certainly, this election – Donald and Hillary, thank you! – has been a long, 18-month opportunity to express indignation, to get stress-hives and to be distracted and unproductive at work. Yet it seems most people are hell-bent on living their lives, content to research the candidates in their area and then vote based on their preferences. A real moralist would be anxious about Indiana’s Senate race and a gubernatorial situation in North Carolina. And I am!
But when this election is over, where will my sense of greater connection come from? Glad you asked! There are some concerns I’ve put on the back-burner that might soon take a starring role. For example, it’s not often I bite down hard. But, when I really clench my teeth and look in the mirror, my mandible looks a little crooked, like I have a micro-tumor on my jaw-hinge. Cancer? Who knows? Come late November, I will start Web-MDing.
However, why should I be so selfish and confine my worries to just my problems? Global warming is something that affects us all. Mass species extinctions, Miami Beach totally underwater, constant hurricanes. Sleepless nights await as I consider whether California is in permanent drought and if increased exposure to UV rays will cause a spike in skin cancer. Who says I don’t think about the community?
And, speaking of community, the ash borer is coming to town. That’s something – but local officials are already concerned. As any pro knows, it’s harder to get into a good lather when there are reasoned PDFs shared with the public on why we’ll replant with a different, hardier species. That kind of takes the fun out of it.
Instead, I could go shut-in style. For three decades, my uncle has been afraid to go out at night for fear he’ll be mugged or murdered. I sometimes get on my high-horse and call him racist (someone has to do it), but I respect the level of fear he harbors. That said, who is he worrying about? Himself. And how is he sharing his worry with the broader community? He’s not. Tsk! He probably just likes watching prime time. And I do think he’s racist. So for my next principal worry, it looks like global warming! A daunting challenge, but a worry I can take on.
Or, maybe, just maybe, the election results will be so horrifying that I’ll be able to coast on concern for what our country has come to. What a gift that would be! (When you’ve had an 18-month worry, it’s hard to let go.) Either way, the brilliance of worrying: you may never know what will come next, but you’re already prepared because you’re already worried.