Wednesday, 10 February 2010

On Worrying - Andrew Strong

I am a naturally anxious person. I worry about everything. When I was fourteen I worried about losing my hair. Years later, still with plenty of hair, I worry about going grey. I have had just about every illness there is, or rather, I have convinced myself, at some point, that I've had every disease know to medicine and a few known only to veterinary science.

Worrying is the ultimate distraction. It's what I do when I'm not hungry, or cold, or wet, or tired.

I worry about my going deaf, going blind and losing my mind. I am not a passive worrier though - I will read medical text books, trawl every internet site to confirm my worries. I will eat the right things, drink the right things, exercise, cleanse my body of toxins and fill it with anti-oxidants.

I worry about leaks, bills, missing appointments, rusty hinges, people, mice, loose tiles, my collapsing shed, the central heating, getting up, going to sleep, tomorrow, next week and next year.

I am a sceptic too. I may worry about eating the right foods but won't believe the people who are telling me what I should eat. I won't listen to experts.

And so it is with global warming, the future energy crisis, and the end of the universe. The sceptical me will deny anyone can know anything for sure.

Worrying passes the time. It gives the wide awake brain something to do. Hating Sudoku and all other forms of solitary amusement, worrying is a great time waster.

Working is a good time waster too. Do it for long enough and you can make money out of it. I've looked for employment as a worrier, but there aren't that many openings. Instead I would find any job, turn up at nine, settle in and worry about doing the job properly until it was time to go home.

Now I am worrying about my book. I used to worry that I would never be published. I found a publisher. Then I worried that my publisher would change their mind. They didn't. Then I worried my book wouldn’t appear in the shops.

Worrying is quite productive, though. I channel it into writing, or sketching out new ideas for books. I don't just sit around and worry. I'm not a slacker. I am an industrious worrier.

Between worrying I've been reading "The User Illusion" - a wonderful, rambling book about consciousness. And it makes this point: if we compare the amount of information going into our brains with the amount we can hold in our consciousness at any one time, it is about a million to one. A million times more information flows into our senses than we know what to do with. Our little wide awake selves spend all our time trying to decide which tiny bits of information to deal with. And yet, meanwhile, our unconscious self deals with the rest.

So here's my solution: I'm going to let my unconscious deal with everything. I'm going to let it do the worrying. My conscious mind is going to get all the fun. I'm going to fill it with colour and music and tastes and smells. There won't be any bandwidth left to worry.

I just hope I will still manage to get things done. Do you think I will? Do you? Will I?

10 comments:

Anne said...

I worry about you, Andrew.

karen ball said...

Brilliant! The combination of worrying and skepticism rings a particular bell with me. Last night my boyfriend and I argued over putting things out for recycling. I do it religiously, but it just seems another OCD-fuelling task and I fear that in 20 years time some official will tell us it was all a waste of time anyway.

Katherine Langrish said...

Nice solution, Andrew...!

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Penny Dolan said...

And just you remember that at 3am when just a few more worries nag in your head, Andrew! Nice post!

Linda said...

Worrying about worrying is a very worrying trend. . .

madwippitt said...

I used to worry that it was only me that worried on such a scale. One worry less to know I'm not alone ... :-)

Meg Harper said...

I recommend that you avoid taking it as far as panic attacks. Panicking about having them can bring them on! But you could argue they're good for you because they increase your heart rate. But then so does sex which is more fun...

Meanwhile, I also recommend you read the poem 'Things' by Fleur Adcock which is the perfect worrier's poem! Enjoy!

BucksWriter said...

I too am a worrier, sometimes about illness but mainly about what other people think of me, or of something I've done.

This latter set of worries is really a total waste of time I know. There are some lovely people in my life whose opinions should count (and they do) but because they are lovely then those opinions are always constructive and supportive.

As for other people, I am trying very hard not to care so much, if al all, as that way insanity lies...

Andrew Strong said...

I was a little worried no one would read my first blog, or if they did, think it worthy of comment. Thanks, all.