Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sapping Today of its Joy

"Deep Peace"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

As I browse the social media and listen to conversations in the the local Starbucks, it seems to me that there is a lot of angst in the lives of many people nowadays. People are worried about a chaotic political climate, they are worried about finances and health concerns. Some folks are worried about flooding due to the stormy spring weather we have been experiencing.

When I think about my own life I realize that I worry a lot, I worry way too much. Worrying is one of those “demons” in my life that continually stands in the way of my spiritual well-being.

I am reminded of a very wise observation I once came across:

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy

As I wrestle with my own "worry demons" I realize that they do indeed sap me of my joy. I also realize that, for me, I rarely worry about the big stuff in life - I am rarely overcome by anxieties over possible impending disasters like terrorist attacks or a big earthquake hitting California.  No, the kind of worries that plague me most are those everyday little worries that occupy a prominent place in my regular routine. So, I worry about things like a leaky faucet or a scratch on the face of my iPhone.

In fact, when I am not worried about something, I sometimes wonder what I may have missed that I should be worrying about - how ridiculous is that?

There is a better word for the kind of worrying that troubles me: fretting. The word, fret, is an “Old English” word meaning, to devour, eat away, gnaw at, and that’s exactly what my everyday worries do to me -  they eat away and gnaw at my well being, “sapping today of its joy."

My guess is that I am not alone in this, many of us allow our worries to slowly eat away at our serenity and deeper peace in life.

I don’t at all believe that we should always “smile and be happy” as we make our way through life, burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the problems of the world, the nation or the personal problems we all face in our lives. I also see very little use in “worrying” about any of it.

The Dalai Lama said:

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

I find great wisdom in this teaching.

We squander away our time and expend useless energy by worrying about the big problems or about the everyday little problems in life. The fact is that problems can either be solved or sometimes have no solution - either way worrying about any of it does nothing to make it better.

Mark Twain once quipped:

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

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