Monday, October 26, 2009


My husband is my dharma buddy. Not that I study the dharma at present, nor does he. But he's still my buddy and he still helps me find my way. So it seems a fitting term.

One thing he continually helps me remember is the ridiculousness of pre-worry. Pre-worry, as we discuss it, is the stuff that overtakes you before you even really know what's going on. It's the flights of fancy and panic your mind takes... the tightness in your chest that is ultimately linked to your imagined series of outcomes, rather than actual, tangible outcomes. It's a smoke screen... a neurotic response... a spinning of one's emotional and mental wheels - fruitless and messy.

I am very good at pre-worry. One might even say I am a master pre-worrier. I have imagined conversations in my head; see whole scenes of ramifications, conflicts, triumphant arguments, and dismal failures that unfold like narrative torrents.

Here is what I have learned about pre-worry: it never helps. Never. It has never been a positive, productive, present kind of response in any situation.

So... today, when trying to do some proactive legwork on the phone with my insurance company as I struggled to locate a good retina specialist in the area, I was afforded yet another opportunity to work on curbing my propensity toward pre-worry.

I was told there were no specialists in my area. Which meant any appointments (which I need, at this point, yearly to follow up on my eye surgeries) would be considered "out of network." It also meant any emergency surgery (which is a possibility... a 5% possibility for each eye, I think... maybe higher on the left because that one didn't actually fall off all the way - so it still could) would be considered "out of network."

Panic! scream my insides. And thus begins the pre-worry. I cry for a bit. I text Andy we need to talk at lunch. We discuss our options.

After my initial panic and crying... I do manage to calm down. I manage to stay mobilized... which, at this point in my learning curve is progress. I re-check everything... which leads to the location of one specialist, two hospitals where surgeries would be covered, and an appointment for my yearly check-up at the end of November.

And in the wake of this wee emotional roller coaster, I am thinking again about the larger lesson provided by such worry cycles. Though it might be argued worry is a form of caution and might therefore make us more attuned, more wary, and more able to handle stress... it might also be said it's a waste of adrenaline, leaving us - at best - exhausted from the ravages of panic or - at worst - paralyzed and inactive.

All in all, this was a rather gentle lesson about in living in the present moment. It's a touchstone to hang onto when I get too anxious about my eyes. Really anything. I must ask myself: Do you know the answer yet? (No.) Then why get all worked up about something that is not really true? (Um...) Has the future you imagined actually come to be? (No.) Then stop. Stop investing in unreality.

May you be free from worry today in any form. And, if you do worry, may you see the present reality clearly so you can continue to move forward.

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