Me? Worried? Yes, and that’s OK

Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.

Christina Baldwin

Happy New Year! And let’s hope it is a calmer year than the two that have preceded it. We might not be out of the Covid woods yet, but we may be nearing the tree line.

This is the time of year when people set new resolutions or seek a new purpose. Renewal of self to go with the beginning of another year. I’ve shared before I’m not really one for resolutions. However, on occasion, I might make a promise to myself in some aspect of my life.

Having kept a journal for some decades, I know that how one might foresee the year turning out can prove wrong. Sometimes as in 2020, very wrong. My journal entry of that January made no mention of a virus. By January 31st, it was a footnote. It was the dominant topic by March. My journal is then akin to the part of Samuel Pepys diary that described the spread of the Plague of London some 355 years earlier.

While I can’t profess that my journal gives the insight that Pepys did on life in England in the 17th century, mine does offer insight into the circle of life.

Within my journal, I’ve written of births and deaths. Marriages, separation, and divorce (not all of them my own!). Happiness and sadness. New friendships I’ve made and colleagues and acquaintances who’ve faded from the scene. Hope for the future and worries of the present.

I’m a natural worrier. I have few hobbies, but I’d be highly proficient if worrying were one. I don’t mind. I’d worry if I weren’t worried about something. I don’t need a new year’s resolution to worry less. I’m comfortable that it’s part of who I am. In some ways, it’s my driving force. As some people take aspirin to ease a headache, I have a ‘what if’ plan or action on hand in the event some of my big-ticket worries happen.

I sometimes think it might be nice to be the sort of person who, at once, sees the upside opportunity rather than the downside risk. I’m not, and I know I never will be. Some would say that makes me a pessimist. Instead, I see myself as a pragmatist. My journal shows that while we may hope for this or for that, often, life just is.

Alan Saunders (not as many people believe, John Lennon) once offered, “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans”. He was being more profound than he ever imagined.

I might worry, but that doesn’t make me unhappy. Being pragmatic and acknowledging that sometimes, “life isn’t fair” means fewer disappointments and less frustration. That doesn’t mean I accept that everything falls to fate and that we should just bob along like a cork in the ocean. As I wrote earlier, we should always have a plan and be ready to act, to help us move in the direction we wish to go. Also, as I’ve grown older, I find myself living increasingly by the Maya Angelou view of life,

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain”.

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In the Renaissance period of my post-career life …

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