They say something like 90 percent of the things we worry about never happen. The point, therefore, is to not waste time or energy, and stop worrying. It’s nearly impossible for some of us. We are a not-brave but weary few: the champion warriors, those of us perpetuating the burgeoning cause of angst like a ribbon-worthy foundation. We proud, pointless, exhausted few…
I saw a Stevie Nicks quote the other day that totally spoke to me. She said, “I’ve learned as time passes, all the things you’re afraid of will come, and they will go, and you’ll be all right.” And I thought, yes. This.
Some folks either don’t worry or don’t mind worrying. My brother Hash seems to enjoy telling me how bad things are going to get. He follows markets and futures and loves to make sure I know just how imminent the doom really is; whether it is economic collapse or global famine or biological warfare, it’s coming and there’s nothing we can do about it, so…why do I want to know?
We all have ups and downs in life. But, like Stevie Nicks, the thing I have observed is that, somehow when the worst finally happens, it does often bring with it a kind of macabre peace.
It was in the back of my mind my whole life, worrying we would lose the farm. Daddy complained and shared at every turn, how bleak the market always was, and how times were getting harder. And then finally they got hard enough and the camel’s back finally gave. For years, the worry was there, though pushed to the back for most of the time. After all, as we tell ourselves sometimes, it’s always been OK, so it will always be. Until the day when it isn’t…
When something you have long feared finally comes to fruition, when the demon from the back of your mind finally jumps in front of your eyes, it can be overwhelming. And yet, the sun keeps rising, doesn’t it? And even though some things we go through emotionally are almost too hard to bear… we do. We keep going on. What recourse have we? And I found myself, when the dust had settled, looking around and thinking that is one less thing I have to worry about. What a strange, dreary blessing. I no longer have to worry about losing the farm, because it happened. We lost it. It’s gone. But we’re still standing. We are still alive.
When I was a small child, the worst thing I could imagine was losing my Mommy. She stayed at home and worked on the farm and so was always there. The rare times she would leave us, I was devastated. I would miss and pine for her until she got back home. Nothing seemed right until she was on the place again. I recall being old enough that I didn’t cry, but I still was not happy or at ease until she returned. She was my safe place and my closest love. And then one day, the worst happened.
I was grown when my Mom passed away, but still was quite young. Again, devastated doesn’t touch it. And yet…when this worst thing happens, and the sun still comes up…I don’t know about you, but don’t you get to the point where you look around and think, “Yeah…that was truly awful. But I’m still here.”
What’s my point? This is America, and I don’t have to have one. But if I did, I reckon my point is just that there have been other times in life when something I worried about sure enough did happen. I, like all of you, have wept and moaned and regretted and worn my falling countenance as if it might trip me into oblivion, and I wouldn’t care when it did. There are still things not yet happened that I worry about and dread or pray never come to pass. But in the meantime, I have the heartbreak under my belt to fall back on and know: That didn’t kill me. I thought at the time it might, but it didn’t. Maybe this next thing won’t either. I reckon then the best thing about the worst is that: You live through it. You get it over with. And sometimes if you’re really lucky, things get better again. That’s the best thing about the worst. It does end. You might carry the grief, but you can let go of the fear.
A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.