Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I come from a long line of worriers. My great-grandma Sarah Reilly was a worrier and so was her daughter Rose. My mother is a world class worrier and once told me that in her younger years she thought that if she was up half the night worrying about someone it meant that she had a deeper, closer, more important relationship with them. Thankfully, she has since overcome this (now) laughable belief. I worry a lot. It's just a character flaw. Something I was born with and that the trials of my life have cultivated in me. Worrying has made me into a bit of an insomniac which is not ALL bad. I've read hundreds of books lying in bed while the rest of the world is sleeping. I've learned that after a certain point it is best to NEVER look at the clock because as the hours tick by you are just going to be depressed by how little sleep you've gotten.

I've thought about this tendency to worry and I think it comes from the uncertainty of life. My husband looks at the uncertainty of life and considers it a reason to not worry at all. You are not going to predict what is going to happen so why even bother worrying. On my better days, I am in perfect agreement with this sentiment. (My better days almost always happen when I've gotten enough cardio in. Endorphins are truly the world's best anti-anxiety medicine). But, sometimes, worry gets the best of me (as it did last week) and when it does my friends seem to rally around me. They encourage me to let go of my fear of the uncertainty of life and come to terms with it as a simple reality. I have no doubt (and I've given this a lot of thought) that if I could actually EMBRACE uncertainty with a Forrest Gump "Life is like a box of chocolates" passion I would be happier, healthier and would probably get to sleep a lot easier most nights.

I've really been working on this. Really, I have. And, as I've worked on this I collected an impressive set of stories about how you NEVER know what might happen so just enjoy it when life goes your way. It will most decidedly not always go your way, but just enjoy it when it does. I thought I would share them with you:

-My mother, ten years ago, was walking down the stairs, lost her balance and ended up with 13 screws and a plate in her foot and a torn rotator cuff. It took three surgeries and countless hours of rehab to get her walking again. Her foot will never be the same and you won't see her running down the beach anytime soon. But, seriously, how many thousands of times has she walked down the stairs? She never would have guessed that on THAT trip down the stairs she would end up with a permanent disability. You shouldn't worry. You really shouldn't.

-My friend, R, was just washing his car on a hilly street in San Francisco and a parked car (without anyone in it) started rolling down the hill. It smashed into him, crushing him into his car and breaking his back. He suffered from serious damage to his internal organs and spent 6 months in the hospital. He still celebrates that day as his second birthday.

-My friend, B, has a co-worker who was standing outside a restaurant with a couple of friends who were smoking. A car veered off the road, struck him, and he lost his leg. Now, no one would ever worry about something like that happening.

-My friend, E, also has a friend who lost a leg. This time he was crossing a street in a crosswalk and he was hit by a cop. I'm really not making these up.

-My friend, A's mom was walking on the sidewalk in front of her house and tripped on a miniscule crack in the cement and fell and broke her leg.

-My husband was doing sort of a headstand on our chair in the living room and the chair flipped out from under him. He came crashing down to the floor landing directly on both knee caps. This was a year ago and his knees still aren't the same.

These are all my accident related stories. I have illness ones too and somehow I find them all to be incredibly soothing. Maybe that sounds odd. That's okay, I'm kind of odd. I mean I feel awful about what happened to all these people but seeing how completely out of the blue all these accidents were helps me to just let go of my life a little bit. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, today I had a great ride. I rode up Tabor 4 times and got that sweet little feeling of accomplishment that for me only comes on hill rides. I wasn't worried about falling or getting hit, I was just enjoying the fresh air and the left/right motion of my pedals. My duct taped together fender now sings to me like the sound of crickets chirping when I climb hills. When I am riding faster and I slow down at a stop sign it sounds exactly like the scooter on the Jetsons. I'm becoming increasingly enamored with these quiet little sounds and wondering if I really want to give up this beat up fender after all.

Some people just naturally let things roll off their back. I envy them. I, on the other hand, almost always have to w-o-r-k t-h-r-o-u-g-h everything. But, you know, I have always been able to work my way through or out of things so I guess that is a testament to how strong I am. (Even though I worry that I might not be so strong). Life might be filled with uncertainty and deep down I know I can't do anything about that. Sometimes life goes your way. Sometimes it doesn't. Today, most everything went my way. I'm just going to enjoy that.

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