Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't Worry Needlessly

Yesterday a squirrel came up on our front porch and stayed for quite awhile. He was eating something, I have no idea what. Camille, my cat, almost missed him as she walked past the sliding glass door towards her food dish, but saw him move out of the corner of her eye, and turned back to the door. She slowly snuck up to the door, on her stealthy kitty paws.
I expected the squirrel to take off as soon as Camille came into view, but no. The squirrel continued to eat, and to rise up on its haunches from time to time to look around. There they were, the predator and the prey, mere inches apart. The squirrel didn't flinch, even when Camille put her paws on the door. Several times they seemed to stare into each others eyes. Then the squirrel would resume calmly eating, and Camille would resume watching. After awhile, Camille relaxed from her predator pose. She even got bored, went to get something to eat, then came back and lay down at her post in front of the door as if nothing unusual was going on.
The squirrel appeared to understand the solidity of the glass door separating them, and the biological fact that cats don't have hands to open doors. Even with a predator an easy reach away, he didn't worry, because he knew that was as close as the predator could get.
We humans are different. We tend to worry whenever we get the chance, even when worry is not warranted. We worry that a loved one, who is five minutes late, is in a ditch somewhere. We worry that we won't get an 'A' on the test that we took yesterday. We worry that the meal won't be perfect for our in-laws. We worry that our fatigue will just get worse and worse, that our pain will never let up, that we will never be able to do anything again.
Even if the situation we worry about is likely to happen, worry isn't the answer. Worry keeps us stuck and in pain. A true assessment of the facts of the situation is more helpful, looking at what is, and what will likely be, allowing us to think about what actions we can take to prevent the unwanted outcome. If it can't be prevented, we may be able to soften the impact by preparing for it or changing the circumstances in which it will happen.
A true assessment might show us that there is really little or no chance of a problem happening, and therefore nothing to worry about. We can just go on with our plans. Just like the squirrel who saw the cat, but also recognized the protection that the glass door provided him.

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