For example, sometimes I walk from one room to another and forget why I was going to the new location. It happens, you know? I’m busy; I had a spark of an idea which didn’t lock it into the right location in my jam-packed brain and suddenly, there I am standing in the center of my living room staring at the wall painting, befuddled, questioning myself, “Now, why did I want to come in here?”
I could simply laugh it off, attributing it to the “human condition.” But, no, not me! I use this minor brain-blurp as a springboard to convince myself that I have the first symptom of long-term memory loss, providing me an opportunity to freak out about my vanishing faculties, forgotten youth, and the inevitable bleak fate which awaits us all, apparently much closer than I anticipated. From there, I spin into a tornado of dread and fright, racing to the internet, researching Alzheimer’s, dementia, and senility. It goes without saying that once one enters the festering, moldy hallways of the world-wide web, countless unimaginable horrific ailments are all now on parade, many of which can now be attributed to this very circumstance. I might as well give up, accept the inescapable, collapse to the carpet, hold my knees tight to my chest, while rocking back and forth, and babbling incoherently.
All right, I’m really not that bad; I’m taking poetic license. Please don’t send me referrals for therapists. This is what we call the “set up” making a broader point.
Research has actually proven that humans are “hard-wired” to assume things will go cattywumpus rather than not. Given the opportunity to attribute a random event to either good new or bad, we will usually assume the road has more potholes than flat patches.
In ancient times, it made sense to assume the worst. Primitive hunter-gatherers would go into an idyllic serene valley. The optimists would find this yet one more reason to relax, breathe deeply, catch fish, lie in the sun, and assume the best. Their counterparts, pessimists, spent every waking moment distressing about any type of calamity, turning their existence into an unending backbreaking chain of toil and labor, always one step shy of collapse.
Said the optimists to the pessimists, “Relax, take a load off. Don’t worry so much.”
Said the pessimists in reply, “Are you kidding? This whole thing could come apart at any second. You’ll be sorry.” With that, they’d turn on their heals and race into the hills, in search of protection from the impending, unforeseen catastrophe.
As it happens, while the pessimists are away engaged in their grueling method of survival, the river overtops its banks, drowns the unaware optimists, and leaves only the pessimists — who therefore became our ancestors. The trait of hard-luck survival has been passed down ever since.
Anticipation and planning surely have their place. Yet, it’s equally important to realize that worry is interest on a debt not yet owed. After all, if worry made things better, I single-handedly would be able to correct everything.
It’s going be what it’s going be, enjoy it while it’s here.