Monday, April 20, 2015

Frittering Away

"Spring Blossoms-
- along a wilderness trail -

Today I was thinking about those personal demons that continue to prevent me from living my life to the fullest, standing in the way of my own spiritual well-being. As I reflect on this, I can almost immediately identify one particular "demon" as an especially troublesome culprit for me on my spiritual path: I "worry" a lot - in fact, I "worry" too much.

Interestingly enough,  I rarely worry about the big stuff in life - I don't allow my self to be consumed  or overwhelmed with fears of impending disasters, terrorists attacks, the collapse of the world market. No,  the kind of worries that plague me are those everyday little worries that show their ugly heads in the ordinary routine of life. 

There is a better word for the kind of worries that taunt me, a word that is rarely used nowadays: the word is "fret." The word "fret" is an old English word meaning, "to devour, to eat away and gnaw at," and that's exactly what my everyday worries do to me. They nibble away and gnaw at the well- being of my everyday existence.

As I think about it, my list of things I fret about is actually fairly extensive. I fret about the stuff that breaks down at my house - a broken hose, a faulty appliance.  I fret about the fact that I have to replace the tires on my car and that I need to drive to LA tomorrow, and I worry about how bad the traffic will be or of it will rain in the mountains as I make the trip?  I also find myself fretting about my health at times- I've been a little dizzy lately.  I even fret about my dog who seems to be limping a lot nowadays. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize that there are probably hundreds of little everyday "fretting demons" gnawing away at my equanimity - and my guess is that I'm not the only one these demons visit. 

The Dalai Lama teaches:

If there is no solution to the problem then don't waste time worrying about it.
If there is a solution to the problem then don't waste time worrying about it.

I think this is wise advice. 

When I spend my time fretting,  I am in fact "frittering my life away." squandering my time and spending useless energy worrying about a problem that can either be solved or maybe can't be  solved- either way, worrying about it does nothing to make it better.

It's no surprise to me that,  while walking in a field of spring flowers,  Jesus would stop his disciples in the midst of all their fretting about what may happen to them and what the future might hold, and tell them to look at the flowers, listen to the birds and "chill:" 

Will your worrying about the future add even one second to your life? Of course not!
Do not worry over tomorrow - for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Mark Twain once said something that I can really appreciate now in my later years of life:

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, 
but most of them have never happened. 

It seems to me that recognizing the demons that plague us on the journey goes a long way at exorcising them. It makes no sense to fritter away my time by fretting every day. 

Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"

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