What is worry doing to you?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2014

There is an old Chinese proverb that reads, “A duck’s legs are short; a stork’s legs are long. No matter how much you worry about it, you cannot change it.”

When I think that, I am reminded of a tape of dulcimer music my husband and I listened to when we traveled. One of the songs tells about a man who took a bride, only to find that she had a wooden leg. “You can’t change it,” he laments. Then he goes on to say that when their first baby arrived, it was a girl, despite the fact that the couple wanted a boy. “You can’t change it,” the doctor who delivered the baby told them.

What the song says is true. We know we cannot change what happened last week, yesterday, or even a few minutes ago. Why worry? Some people are worriers–it is their way of life. My mother-in-law was a worrier. If she did not have anything to worry about, she even worried about that.

I heard about a man who said that worrying about a speech he planned to make cost him two nights’ sleep. He worried the night before about what he was going to say. Then he worried the night after about what he should have said.

One day when I mentioned I was worried about something, a friend told me I should never worry. “Every time you start to worry, stop and pray instead,” she said, shaking a finger at me.

Unfortunately, no matter how many quotations most of us hear about avoiding worry, there are times when we let worry get the best of us. My husband and I once attended a party in an unfamiliar city. He drove while I tried to guide him from the map sent by the host. I have never been a good map-reader and this was before the appearance of a GPS. To complicate matters, we wound up in the midst of that evening’s after-work traffic. We arrived at our destination safely, but pretty strung out. All during that party, we both kept getting flashes of worry about our trip back home. As is often the case, our worry was unnecessary. The traffic rush was long past by the time we got back on the road.

If you are a worrier, take note. Worrying can cause tooth decay, according to some experts. Constant worry, they claim, restricts the flow of saliva, leading to the improper neutralization of mouth acids. And, speaking of teeth, have you heard the story of the man who always double-parked when he visited his dentist? He did it because he liked to have something to worry about to keep his mind off his pain in the dental chair.

If you are a worrier, maybe you should consider this statement from a man named Phil Marquant: “Blessed is the man who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night.” Fellow worriers, that makes sense.