While we’re looking for potions and pomades to keep us looking young, what are we doing for our wrinkly insides? Is it possible that the bumps and bruises of our external selves are really reflections of what’s going on within?
The other day my son and I took a trip to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. We drove from home to the metro station, parked and ran to the station to catch the train just as it was pulling away. Amazing timing, I interpreted it as good luck for the day. As I settled into my seat for the 30-minute train ride, thoughts began to well up in my mind. Did I lock the car door? Turn off the lights? Will I remember where I parked when I come back at the end of the day? Do I have my car keys? For that matter, did I close the garage door when I left home? Did I turn off the burner on the stove after I made breakfast? Where’s my umbrella?
Racing thoughts directed at unfinished tasks marred my trip. OCD notions marched through my mind like wooden soldiers. What could have been the calm of the day erupted into a raging fire in my brain.
No wonder I was exhausted when I reached my destination, and all I’d done was sit for 30 minutes! When do I get a break from all the madness in my mind? It looks like never, judging by the parade of pinpricks of anxiety that I’d just experienced.
And this is just a snippet of what happens in my mind each day, I realized. Given a moment of calm and quiet, I seem to dwell on the what if’s and should’s that are not only irrelevant at the time, but impossible to do anything about, even if I could.
Oh, I can certainly rationalize my anxious thoughts by telling myself if I wasn’t focused on the what if’s, all hell would break loose. I can cite many examples when I was calmly sitting and fretting and solving problems at the same time. In fact, I carry a slip of paper and a pen with me always, because you just never know when a problem that needs solving will jump into your head. Am I right? (of course I am).
My mother-in –law called it worryation, which is far more immutable than mere worry. She had nine children to raise. Of course, she had no calm brainwaves. How could she? Every waking moment was held hostage by the needs of other people, i.e., her kids. Her thoughts weren’t even her own.
Do men ponder and muse at the same rate as women, I wonder? This 30-minute train ride can be my own personal human behavior lab. Why waste time, am I right? (of course I am).
As I look around this train, I am seeing most of the men, ear phones on, eyes closed. By the dreamy looks on their faces, I believe they are having happy thoughts, using this time as a respite from life and work.
On the other hand, the women are writing or reading. Grocery lists, no doubt, or to do’s, like scheduling their kid’s next dentist visit, or taking their aging mother for her next cardiology appointment.
I’m in good company with my anxious thoughts, I’ve decided. Without them, who knows where civilization might be going? Without my thoughts my life would be out of control. I know darn well I’m right on this one.
As the saying goes, I can relax when I’m dead. Wait a minute, is that a saying or something that just popped into my mind? Whatever, I am writing it down because it’s a workable solution to the many problems that I haven’t even identified yet.