When Worrying Is Not Worth It

“What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while,
So, pack up your troubles in
your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.” – George H. Powell

What the heck is a kit-bag? Google tells us it’s a suitcase with sides that fasten at the top or open to the full width of the bag that came out in 1893. I’m pretty sure I own one of those and it’s always permanently stuffed with my worries to the full width of the bag and will likely be lugged around until my last breath. Once we get the hang of it we can tend to carry them for others. I wonder if there was less worrying prior to 1893.

Most of my frets get stuffed into that bizarre kit in the wee hours of the morning just before getting up. What’s with that? I’m physically and mentally vulnerable and evidently a sucker for packing in those moments. Once I’m up the worries subside a bit but that gaping bag is always nearby.

There is a question posed in the novel “Book Thief” that blew me away. It simply states “A small fact: You are going to die…does this worry you?” Well, yeah! What kind of a question is that? But then the author implies one should not dwell on one’s death. It’s a waste of time and mental energy. Fine, but how do we cease jamming those troubles into that cavernous kit-bag? How do we get rid of packing up those endless hassles and begin to smile, smile, smile?

I had a great wakeup call in that regard on January 18th 2000, the night our twin grandchildren came into this world of overstuffed kit-bags. The occasion allowed me to have two smiles pop up in the midst of some serious angst. Our daughter had hired a Doula – a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth. She can also be there for nervous grandparents. Our Doula was a gracious bohemian type gal who caught me worrying after 8 hours in the waiting room. She sat down on the floor crossed-legged in front of me and asked perkily “How are you doing granddad? You seemed pretty happy when I passed by you a while back.”

“I was doing fine for 6 hours or so” I admitted “but then I began to recall stories I had heard about multiple births in which there can be some body parts compromised by stealing from each others organs.”

She smiled and said “Don’t deny more hours of great joy by focusing on what might go wrong until you have been apprised of the outcome. You will have cut yourself short and missed out on some great gladness for at least another hour or so.” I had just spent time in a two-hour zone of needless worry while the grandmother-to-be seated next to me was still living in sheer bliss.

It was a wise piece of advice and it can be applied to how we fear dementia and/or our demise for months or years by dwelling on what may happen. How much enjoyment have we squandered by continuing to fill up that kit? We may tend to worry more about our future around the holidays when we are recalling loved ones who have passed. ‘A small fact: You are going to die…does this worry you?” If so you are about to miss out on a lot of deserved delight.

“The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish,
cutting the heart asunder.” – Virginia Woolf

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