The only thing† worse than having anxiety about something is the clarity of hindsight when you realize how much time you’ve spend senselessly worrying. As a former procrastinator who paid dearly for her dithering, I made a switch many years ago to something of the opposite extreme. I am now an ultra preparer. My move, which should culminate in the receipt of my belongings later today, has been on the books since March 30. Call me for a gig and I’m there an hour before the early birds. I like to put up Halloween decorations on October 1. I’m halfway through Dr. Hardiman’s text for the class that begins tomorrow.

I do this stuff because I assume things are going to go wrong, or that I’ll need extra time, or something else will come up at the last minute. At first, this kind of over-preparing served me well. It was refreshing not to worry so much, and to have a clear picture of what the days/weeks/months ahead would look like. Security eventually began to give way to anxiety, though: I had glimpsed what I thought was control, and I wanted more of it.

With some help from Pema, yoga, and good old fashioned getting older, I’m now much less prone to worry loops, although I still have my moments. One of these moments came recently, surrounding my well documented moving debacle. Over and over, I retraced the mistakes on the part of the company, recalled the salesman’s unprofessionalism, pined for the comforts of my belongings, wished I had done something differently. My stomach stewed, I had nightmares, I cried into a glass of Cab Franc, which was actually a mug, because that’s all I have to drink out of.

Suddenly a pie chart flashed before my eyes. I imagined myself in the last moments before death, being shown a diagram of how I spent my life.

Perhaps it seems radical to appeal to my eventual demise, but really that’s the point behind everything we do, isn’t it? Even if there is a paradise waiting for me or I get to come back as another creature, I’d really like to do this current life well. I know I’d like less time worrying about things that are already in motion, that are completely out of my control. Less time looking in the mirror inspecting my flaws. More time doing good things for others. More time spent in the moment. That little glimpse into the future reminds me to, as Pema says, “Relax as it is.” It’s not that things are perfect or even pleasant, but it only makes it worse if you’re struggling against it. There is peace available in just about every moment, as it turns out.

So what would your pie chart look like? I’d love to do a follow up post featuring your submissions. Make your pie chart here. Send me your charts at contact(at)emilywright(dot)net.

†Ok, so there are worse things. Waking up in a sleeping bag full of bees is definitely worse. Having your beard catch fire is certainly as bad, especially if you’re a woman. God knows people stare at it enough without it being on fire. Although when you’re done you have no beard, which for some women is a bonus.

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8 Responses

  1. My pie chart would look a lot like yours, only no sunrises, the "worrying about appearance" would be retitled "worrying about what others think of me", pizza would be "chocolate", and "macarena" and "sunrises" would be combined to make "feeling awkward in social situations".

    The "wishing you were doing something else" needs work in my life. I have had the amazing opportunity to follow my bliss, but I generally do not want to be doing whatever I am doing at any given moment. If I have no cello with me, I want to play the cello. If I am working on a review, I want to be spinning. Evidently I have problems embracing the now!

  2. You and me both. I have a feeling if we got together with wine, knitting/spinning and cellos we could probably "stay present" until very late!

    hmm….how far away is Canada from here? 🙂

  3. Is there such a thing as Worriers Anonymous? If there isn't, we should start a support group. Something like posting a DM on Twitter, "this is my worry, please talk me down from it, or distract me from it in some amusing way."

    My chart would be a great deal of worry, a little writing, a little cello, a little knitting, a little comfort reading or audiobook listening or movie watching during said knitting, the occasional fridge binge, procrasticleaning, or manicure from sister, and the once yearly "F- it, I'm going to Europe by myself for a week to REALLY shake myself up."

    And the irony, the word verification was "restrise" or as I see it, "rest rise." Indeed.

  4. My pie chart would probably be 60% "attempting to complete the sentence 'where did I leave that damned ______?'"

  5. We could form the Anti-Anxiety Cello, Fine Wine, and Fibre Arts club! It would be excellent therapy.

  6. 25% eating/fantasizing about food
    25% shopping/coveting stuff
    20% TV/movies
    10% sleep
    10% work
    5% hobbies (music, dance, etc)
    5% crushing/hating on boys

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