“What–Me Worry?” So says Alfred E. Newman, MAD Magazine’s iconic cover boy. As a kid I read this as “whatmeworry” not “What? Me Worry?” as intended. I loved MAD, by the way. Nothing thrilled my more than when Dad would pick up a copy for me at the store. Secretly, Dad loved it, too. But this post isn’t about MAD, although that would be cool.
I wanted to live by Alfred’s wise words, but I was always a worrier. Here’s some crappy advice: Try not to worry. That just makes me worry about why I can’t not worry.
I was a born worrier. Maybe it’s because my Mom fell through the back porch when she was 8 months pregnant with me. I might have started worrying about what the hell was going on out there. I was born on August 11, 1962 at 6:20 a.m. I’m sure I worried about being born so earlier in the day. Would coming out this early disrupt my schedule? It was Summer, too. Would I be too hot in this new world? How hard would it be to make friends?
I worried about stuff when I was a kid. I even worried about other kids. When I was about 6 or 7, a kid named Dennis Martin disappeared in the Great Smoky Mountains. He was my age. He just walked away from the campground and never came back. I worried about Dennis. Where was he? What happened to him? Would that happen to me? Every now and then–some 40+ years later–I check the Internet to see if they ever found him. Nope. Still missing.
I grew up at Ground Zero for the War on Poverty. Social workers would come to school and give kids coats. I worried about the kids who didn’t have coats. My uncle was a social worker. He was the “Shoe Man.” He would come in the class rooms and kids would stick their feet up in the air to show they needed shoes. Personally, I never saw this, but he talked about it. He talked, and I worried.
I’ve worried about my health. Germs, disease, accidents. Let’s be honest: A lot of bad crap can happen with your health. If you live long enough, it will happen, unless you get killed in an accident. Geez. Think about all the diseases and accidents that can happen. This doesn’t even count the chances of running afoul of a serial killer, mass murderer, terrorist or random nut case. I read a court case about a guy who got killed when one of his co-workers goosed him with a high-pressure air hose. Blew out his colon. What are the odds? Who knows? But I stay the hell away from high-pressure air hoses.
I’ve worried about sports, mostly sports played by other people and over which I have no influence. I’ve lost sleep over such things–before and after the event. I’ve worried about whether people would think less of me because I cheered for a team that lost a big game. Then, I worried about why I would worry about something like that.
I’ve worried about money, even though I’ve been fortunate enough to never have had any serious money problems. That never stopped me from worrying about it. Will I have enough to send my kids to college? To retire? What if I lose my job? What if I can’t work? These questions are all fertile worrying ground.
The good news is that as I’ve aged, I worry less. I’d like to say that this is because I’m mature or just wiser. The real reason is that there are fewer things to worry about, because I’ve experienced most of the things I’ve worried about. That doesn’t stop people from trying to get me to worry about stuff. Nevertheless, it’s obvious–even to a worrier–that most of it isn’t worth the effort. What it comes down to is “What if…?” For some reason, I rarely think “What if…everything turns out GREAT?!?” Fortunately, there are a growing number of things for which “What if…?” just doesn’t matter to me.
With that in mind, here are some things I won’t be worrying about:
- The Mayan Apocalypse: Some Mayan made a calendar that stretched out for hundreds of years and just stops on December 21, 2012. That’s supposed to be the end of the world or so some say. This discounts the possibility that the guy who made the calendar just got tired and quit or maybe someone killed him or he died of syphilis or something. If the world ends on the 21st, so be it. Really, what can I do about it? It’s the first day of Winter, and Winter sucks. Plus, Snookie is supposed to have her baby on the 21st of December. If that’s the end, it’s well-timed.
- End Times: This, of course, is related to the Mayans but different. If the end is near, I can’t stop it. Every generation thinks the end is near. One of them will be right. Maybe it’s us. If it is–and it’s a God thing–what I am supposed to do about it? Just roll with it.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: This is supposed to be bad stuff, some sort of deadly poison. I don’t care. I’m certain that everything I’ve eaten with high fructose corn syrup in it has been good. I like it. Period.
- Brain Chips: I’ve had a bunch of emails telling me that Obamacare has a sneaky provision in it requiring everyone to have a tracking chip placed under their hides in March of 2013. It’s also called a “slave chip.” This is disconcerting, of course. It’s also not true, but that doesn’t matter. I’m willing to assume it’s true. Here’s what the government would find out about me. I wake up, go to work, go to the gym, go home. That’s it.
- Gay People: There are gay people. Always have been. Always will be. They don’t bother me. They don’t try to recruit me. They don’t try to make my gay. I’m not worried about them getting married or having jobs or being out of the closet or being gay. No worries here.
- Tim Tebow: Hey, Tebow is a nice young man. Or he seems to be. By NFL standards, he’s not a very good quarterback, but a lot of my religious friends disagree. They think God makes him play well. (Somehow, they don’t realize that Tebow’s fellow Gator and Heisman Trophy winner and equally religious and all-round good guy Danny Wuerffel wasn’t a good quarterback, either). I think he can be a good player–just not a good quarterback. I don’t worship Satan, either. I’m not going to be concerned about Tebow. If he does well, great. If not, fine too. I wish ESPN would quit worrying about him.
- The Royal Family: If want to obsess over the lives of ugly, inbred people, I’ll watch Toddlers & Tiaras. Maybe I should worry about the fact that I occasionally watch Toddlers & Tiaras. By “occasionally,” I mean “regularly.”
- Robert Pattinson: Like most people, I was traumatized to learn that Kristen Stewart (“K-Stew”) cheated on hunkilicious Robert Pattinson. It took awhile, but I’m over it. My intuition tells me he’ll be okay. He might even be able to find a new girlfriend. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and no worry about it. It’ll be tough, but I can do it. Maybe.
- Mercury: I’m talking about the element, not the planet. No one has urged me to worry about the planet (yet). The element, however, is all kinds of worrisome. Deadly. And everywhere. In our water, our food, the air. There’s no escaping it. I suppose I should read up on it to find out what it’s doing to me. My high school chemistry teacher had a big plastic jug full of mercury in our classroom. We’d dump some of it on a table and blow on it to watch it roll around. We’d even put it in the palms of our hands and play with it. Now, if a drop of mercury is exposed, the entire school is evacuated and raided by HazMat teams. I’ve already been exposed to a lot of mercury. Too late to start worrying about it now.
- Getting Older: A lot of people worry about this. Seems like I would, too, but I don’t. I like getting older. It means I’m still here. I’ve known way too many people who stopped getting older way too soon. If I get a letter from AARP, it just reminds me that I’ve survived. I like that. Another thing is that I’ve progressively gotten older since birth. I’m used to it. If you don’t want to get older, you really want to die. I don’t want to die. Of course, the older you get, the closer you are to death. Worrying about death is different from worrying about age. Plus, I don’t think most of us worry so much about death as about how we die. Slow, painful death or loathsome disease are what we worry about. I better stop now, I’m getting concerned.
- Global Warming: I’m sure this makes me a horrible person, but it’s just how it is. I love the coal industry and just don’t cotton to crusades to put it out of business. That’s what the Global Warming is all about. Second is that I’m just a wee bit too selfish to live by candlelight and ride a bicycle everywhere I go. I like electricity and the internal combustion engine. Global warming is the cloth diaper of this generation. When my first son was born, people said we should use cloth diapers to save the environment and keep our landfills from overflowing with Pampers. These people either: (1) Never had a baby; or (2) Are just plain odd and don’t mind having piles of cotton cloth soaked with human filth. Global warming works the same way. I’m sure there are people who live off the grid, as they say. I just don’t know any of them. I’m certainly not going to be one of them. And I don’t worry about it. Maybe I’ll wake up one day on the beach in Lexington, Kentucky, fighting off polar bears. Now, THAT is something I’ll worry about it when it happens.
There you have it. A small list of things which won’t be on my mind. I’m going to add one more thing to the list every month or so. Eventually, I’ll run out of things to worry about it.
For now, I’m not worry-free. I still have plenty of things that are fret-worthy. I worry about my children, which I guess most people do (I mean worry about their own kids, not mine). And not just about their safety and futures. What if they do something stupid? Doesn’t that make me a bad parent? Worse yet, won’t people think I’m a bad parent? I also occasionally think I’m more important than I really am and worry about my job, becoming convinced that every thing I do is a referendum on my worth as a human being. I still worry about sports for no rational reason.
I also worry that I blog too much. Maybe it’s a sign of mental illness. That’s worrisome.
I’d like to be one of those people who say “Everything will be okay.” Actually, I am one of those people. What I mean is I’d like to be one of those people who say that and mean it. What I really mean is “Everything will be.” And it will.