While watching Saturday morning cartoons, (I like to keep in touch with what kids are tuning into.) I caught an episode of Garfield & Friends. In it one of the barnyard animals—probably the chicken—was worrying about the sky falling and one of the other animals—the smart one, a lamb I think—asked him to consider a single question, “Why worry?”
The lamb went on to explain that whether a problem could or couldn't be fixed, worrying wouldn’t accomplish anything. The simplicity of the statement made me think. It was such an obvious fact, but how much time and energy do we spend disregarding it?
In a nutshell, WORRYING=STRESS and up unto that time, I realized, most of my physical ailments (allergies, asthma, migraines etc) were all triggered by stress. So I set out to simply learn to stop...breathe...and let go. By “accepting things I could not change” I actually lessened these physical manifestations enough that Instead of ending up in emergency rooms twice a year from my asthma or bearing the onslaught of totally debilitating migraines, they suddenly fell almost totally away. Wow. Who’d have thought....
At another time, also long, long ago, I ran into a financial crises wherein my problems mushroomed and spiraled so far out of my control that I was devastated. When it reached the point the rent could no longer be made. I’d run out of normal options. (Once you’re behind, it makes for an even more torturously stressful time. If I couldn’t pay one month, how was I going to pay two?)
Hopelessly I brooded over the bills. I would never catch up. I was out of options. It was time to be creative. I decided to go light and lean. So I packed all my possessions and put them in storage. Then tinted the windows on my little Honda Civic station wagon, placed an assortment of clothing in a trunk, constructed a padded bedroll alongside it and gave up the house.
Funny thing about living in Lubbock TX, since its a college town, every large city park seemed to have some sort of high rise apartment complex across the street so there were always cars parked along the streets. Every night after sunset I blended right in with them and I’d lock up the car, crawl into the folded down back seat to my bedroll and fall asleep to the sight of green grassy rolling hills, trees and the moon over the park’s man made ponds. It was strangely liberating and very peaceful—much moreso than trying to sleep under the threat of unpaid bills and an uncertain future.
I usually woke up when the sun rose. Nobody ever noticed me. Morning joggers passed by oblivious to my presence. I even woke up one night to find some guys sitting on my car and drinking beer. This was the point when I realized that people just don’t see what they don’t expect.
I spent my days working an inventory job and looking for a better job. Finally targeting a CAT assembly job. Every Friday I briefly called them around 3 pm and asked if they were ready to hire me. Eventually a position came open and the secretaries told me to come in. I got the job and after I’d gathered enough money, I found a new home and started again.
It was perhaps not a normal solution but it worked for me and made me aware just how important communing with nature could be. With all the hustle and bustle of making a living, I believe we tend to forget the basics. When the world becomes unbearable, worry and stressing out is just not a healthy solution.
So here’s my advice for when the walls come crashing in (metaphorically):
1. Remember to breathe; slow deep breaths until you feel calm.
2. Look to nature. Recalibrate what is important.
3. Keep in mind that as long as your choices aren’t terminal (nobody dies because of them) there are lots of ways to get from here to where you want to be.
4. When trapped, think outside of the box.
5. Don’t forget to smile.
It’s always worked for me. *grin*