Father Dan used to imagine that our minds have a separate compartment reserved for worrying. ( I wrote about this on 4/4/20 in “Patting the Puppy.”) Let’s say our son is hanging with disreputable friends, we’re waiting to hear back on a medical test, our dad is becoming increasingly forgetful, and we can’t remember the last time we saw our wallet. Plenty of guests for the worry room. We ping from one travail to the other, fretting away the hours of our life. But then, Father Dan would say, suppose we learn that the son’s good influence is helping his friends, our test comes back negative, our dad is merely distractible, and our wallet slipped under the seat of the car. Hurray! For a short time, we feel relieved and grateful, but soon enough other worries begin creeping in. What’s that sound my car engine is making? How will I ever afford to fix it? We forget to shut the worry door, and a whole new set of problems rushes into that (metaphorical) space in our brain.
The last few weeks I’ve been obsessing over a legal worry. I tried channeling Father Dan wisdom, tried meditating and prayer, tried talking to friends and experts. All the efforts helped, but even so I pretty much took up residence in the worry room, especially in the wee hours of the night.
Thankfully, the issue has been resolved, and I’m still in a relieved and grateful mode. But worries about Covid 19, the start of school, and a Cold War with China are banging away at the door. Somehow the simple concept of a room that wants to fill up, no matter what, helps me. It strengthens me to bolt the lock, at least for awhile.