Thursday, July 25, 2013

Worry Is a Misuse of Imagination

Today is Thursday, July 25, 2013. 

"Worry is a misuse of imagination." – Dan Zadra

 At first blush, worry and imagination don't seem to have a lot in common, but if you look up the definition of worry, you realize that it is "negative thoughts,  images and emotions about some anticipated threat.   The key word is "anticipated," which means the perceived threat is some time in the future.  

What is imagination?  It is the act or power of forming a mental image of something not immediately present to the senses or something that has never before existed in reality.   The key here is "not immediately present."  If what we imagine does come to exist, it will do so in the future.   

Worry and imagination have several things in common, then.  For one thing, they are both mental activities.  Secondly, they are both rooted mainly in visual images.  Finally, whatever is being worried about or imagined does not exist in the present time.  In fact, the thing we are worrying about or imagining need never exist at all. 

It is said that at least 85% of the things we worry about never actually come true.  The things that do come true, in my experience, are never quite as bad as I had anticipated.   I've spent plenty of time worrying, believe me.  

When I was very young, I worried that I would never get married.  Because of this, I ended up marrying my first boyfriend.  I won't call it a "mistake," because I find that I learned a great deal about myself, about society in general, and about relationships.  Because I married a man from Japan, I got a very rare chance to experience Japanese culture "from the inside," so to speak.  I also learned a great deal from the divorce process about myself and my ability to solve my own problems. 

When I moved from Oregon, where I had taught Japanese at the high school level but had been let go because I lacked a formal certification to teach the language, I worried that I wouldn't be able to find a place to live or get into the University of Minnesota to earn postbaccalaureate teaching certification.  It was a lengthy process, and I had to depend on my parents for financial support, and I spent much of that time as poor as a church mouse, but I did manage to get the certification, picking up a Master of Education degree, as well, with certification in both Japanese language and English-as-a-Second-Language.  

I got a job teaching Japanese, too, but left it after a short time for reasons that I have written about in a previous post.  Then I worried that I would never get another teaching job again.  That worry didn't materialize, either, although it did take a couple of months.  Months, you say?  In the present economy, some people spend years looking for another job!  I was incredibly lucky, because St. Paul Public Schools was still looking for ESL teachers after the school year started.

Later, I ran into financial difficulties, and worried that I would never get out of debt.  I beat that rap, too, although it did take several years, and when I finished, I had a long list of things that I had done without, including new glasses (my vision was beginning to get jumpy), a bridge for my teeth (I just left a hole in my mouth for a couple of years), hearing aids (mine got old, pooped out, and could not longer be fixed), and a computer (old one crashed).  I had been paying so much money through the debt management people that when I was all paid up, I was able to buy all of these things in cash, without ever using my credit card.  Amazing.   And I had money left over to move, lock, stock and barrel to South Dakota. 

I can't say I didn't worry about death when I had cancer, and later, when I was lying in the hospital with two big pulmonary embolisms, but both times I was way more worried about not being able to finish up my life than I was about the actual process of death or what might come next.  Obviously, since I'm sitting here writing this, those worries never materialized, either. 

Lately, I've been worrying about money again, since I have medical bills to pay as a result of my car accident in Florida, but it appears that these worries will be mostly unfounded, as well.  I just got a call from the insurance adjuster this afternoon.  

What else is there to worry about?  Nothing, really, but trust me, I'll think of something.  :-/

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