Culture + Community
On Worrying and Doing Less of It | Typewriter Poems Series
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you, too, often feel as though your brain is jam-packed with doubts and anxieties. With worst-case scenarios and never-ending guilt-trips. With words like should and have to and not enough. It’s easy to feel burdened by the pressures of a competitive, consumerist culture, so how do we give ourselves the permission to lay down these burdens? Is it possible to acknowledge our worries, gently set them aside, and then move forward in our lives without dragging them along?
There’s a poem by Mary Oliver called “I Worried,” and it goes like this: “I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers / flow in the right direction, will the earth turn / as it was taught, and if not how shall / I correct it? / Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, / can I do better?” Eventually, she concludes, “finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. / And gave it up. And took my old body / and went out into the morning, / and sang.”
To ground ourselves in beauty – be it nature and music, like in this poem, or be it something else – is to forget the old worries, is to remember the power of our humanness. To remember that we are connected to one another, to the earth, to our own spiritual beings, on a primal and sacred level. To remember that life is grander and stranger and more overwhelmingly beautiful than we ever could have anticipated… and when we venture into the wilderness of our souls, into the wilderness of Mother Earth, we remember what it means to have courage and faith and hope; we remember what it feels like to be afraid and unsure and full of worry, and to do the thing anyway.