I love the movie “About Time.” Have you seen it?
The romantic comedy centers around a guy named Tim who, through no explained reason other than it runs in his family, can travel through time. When he asks his dad for advice on how to use this gift wisely, he rules out money and focuses on finding love. When life provides its funny, embarrassing, heart-wrenching and unforgettable moments, Tim is able to relive and change things while discovering sometimes that’s not always for the best.
One of my favorite lines comes from Tim around halfway through the movie after his family experiences a tragic event.
He says, “There’s a song by Baz Luhrmann called ‘Sunscreen.’ He says worrying about the future is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life will always be things that never crossed your worried mind.”
I’ve thought a lot about this line lately because I can often be a complete worry wart. But the thing is, every time I thought I had cancer, or carpal tunnel, or sleep apnea, I never ended up having those things. And when I worried about my car getting struck by lightning as I drove in a storm last summer, I ended up home safely. And every single time I worried something bad happened to one of my loved ones because they were running late, they always showed up eventually.
It’s the things that never entered my worried mind that actually came true: Rolling my car two different times; my best friend’s mom being diagnosed with cancer; my grandpa dying just a week or so after entering a nursing home facility; learning someone who was once close to me committed suicide.
A little more than a week ago, I sat on the floor with my husband crying about the possibility that things could change drastically in our lives. I worried for days, waiting for answers. While I don’t think this experience was worthless because it helped me turn to prayer and think of others who have it much worse than me, I probably missed a few moments that were beautiful because my mind was on something else.
It’s hard to see a sunset if your head is buried in a pillow while your mind turns all the negative possibilities, or hear a joke and lovely laughter following if you’ve tuned out the world. Sometimes worry is enough stop everything while the world is still moving in its wonderful ways. And those moments spent stewing over troubles that aren’t happening yet are moments you’ll never get back.
I know it’s going to take me a long time to figure out how to stop worrying. Sometimes, for some reason, it feels productive, and makes me feel like I’m preparing myself before a storm breaks. But if there is a way to stop and completely feel life as it happens – good or bad – instead of imagining the worst before it happens, I hope to find it.
I think it’s OK to cry, to feel pain and empty when the world takes us by surprise. But that’s the thing – the bad things always seem to take us by surprise and the stuff we worry about often fades away as real life happens.