Updated: Oct 4, 2019
“you can’t shovel snow that has yet to fall”. ~Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
I am a champion worrier. I am married to a champion worrier. We both do our best worrying in the middle of the night, of course. I regularly attempt to shovel snow that has yet to fall. You too? Hmmm. Well, it doesn’t seem to matter, does it, that whatever you’re worrying about is not changed one whit by your worrying. We all know we shouldn’t worry. We all know that worrying is a waste of time, that we worry about things we shouldn’t worry about, that 90% of what we worry about does not ever happen. Yet, we persist. I wonder why.
I have decided that it is fruitless to try to “stop worrying”. Or, to figure out WHY I worry as much as I do. The how or the why don’t seem to be as important as leaning into my worries and facing them head on. I am trying to make a practice of befriending my own worrying instead of trying to banish it to the chair facing the corner. What if I embraced my worrier, just met her as an old friend; “Oh, there you are! You’ve come back to visit. How nice to see you!” Maybe I need to brew up a cup of tea for her, set out some cookies. I won’t try to reassure her. Won’t try to distract her. Won’t try to argue with her. Just invite her in. Make her welcome. Be a witness to her worries. Maybe she just wants to be noticed, made comfortable.
I’m going to name her Mabel. I think she is pretty old, wears lipstick, reads the medical encyclopedia before going to bed. I think she may drive an old car, probably subscribes to health newsletters and reads the Mayo website regularly. I bet she has a compass and a thermometer in her purse, and, copies of her insurance policies. I bet she eats plenty of kale. I know she has a broom up her arse, which is why I must give her a pillow to sit on. She’s a bit hard of hearing and wears thick glasses. I know she wants to have fun and doesn’t quite know how. Maybe I could dance with her – or teach her some songs. She needs lots of love and more than a few glimpses of sunlight on any given day. Maybe she needs a walk in the woods.
Here’s poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poem about all this;
“Note to Self above the Paradox Valley”
You do not need to know what comes next.
There is always another storm, and you
cannot hang the tent out to dry before
it has gotten wet: You cannot shovel snow
that has yet to fall.
Put down the shovel. Breathe
into the dark spaces of your back,
feel how they open like cave doors
to let in the light.
Let your face soften. Let the creases
fall out of your brow. The mind,
no matter how clear, will never become
a crystal ball.
Whatever is wisest in you knows to run
when it hears the first crashes of rock fall.
It does not pause then to consider
metamorphic or igneous,
not does it hesitate to wonder
what might have pushed them down.
It is no small thing to trust yourself.
It is right that love should shake your body,
that you should find yourself trembling
in the rubble and dust
after all your certainties come down.
But your breath has not left you.
Here is the morning rain. It opens
the scent of the leaves, of the air.
All around you the world is changing.
What are you waiting for?
Here is the cup of mint tea
growing stronger in itself.
Here on this cliff of uncertainty
there is a stillness in you
so spirited, so alive
that whatever is wisest in you