Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Gulls Take Wing

I'm sitting here doing what my mother called 'stewing'. If I weren't typing, I would be chewing my fingernails. Not because there is anything in my life to cause anxiety attacks; rather, both my daughters are going through traumas of various sorts and I can't do anything about any of it. And I can't even lay the problems out here, because they are not my problems and not mine to tell.

We all know the symptoms. Inability to concentrate. Shortened tolerance for annoyances. Lost sleep. A general lost savour for the little things that make life good. Seeing the negative side of things loom larger. Mountains out of molehills.

I like to be positive about things both big and small. If my daughter takes off for a four day hike into the Namibian desert, solo, I tell myself that she is capable, fit and a good problem solver and can convince myself that she will arrive at her destination, on time and in good form, having enjoyed the adventure. I believe myself, mostly. Especially when, in due time, said daughter does arrive at her destination intact and joyfully describes her journey. I do not lie awake at night worrying about lions, usually. I am not kept awake by someone who is tossing and turning and fretting about them. Mostly. But right now, I'm not listening to myself very well.

It's a funny thing, worry. It probably is hardwired right into all our genes, as the ability to foresee the lion and figure out a way to stay safe is the ultimate survival trait. Little kids' trepidation in new situations is part of it. This caution, I think, turns into the anxiety about fitting in and succeeding at things that most adolescents suffer. A lot of young adults can seem very cocky, but the blessed 'I can do this' stage is pretty short. For me it only lasted until I acquired seven odd pounds of squawking baby and realized that I was IT -- the go to person to ensure that this infant would survive and thrive. The baby's father is faced with a similar, maybe slightly more diffuse, reality check. It's time to really work on the spear and the stockade. And make sure there's enough wood to keep the fire burning all night.

Only, the defenses might not be enough. Maybe there will be two lions. Worrying can be a constant weight on the mind and a drain on the body. Especially when the dangers are diffuse or unknown, or the problems are affecting someone you love. It can be really, really hard to stop overpreparing, to let your mind and body rest. I know people who never seem to be able to let things alone. Their minds turn up more and more problems and they fret about things they can't identify, let alone solve. Have you ever watched a flock of birds feeding who, whenever a shadow flickers over them, fly into cover? The shadow might be a predator. It almost never is, but the flight defense is innate and so they go, over and over again.

My mind is full of shadows this morning.


  1. The photo? Stunning.

    This post? So full of love it's as beautiful as the picture.

    Big (HUG) for the stewing. Alas, poor stewing, I know it well.

    Using My Words

  2. I'm sorry that it's weighing on you. And the worry -- I know it. I fully expect to be worrying about Ben and Jack until the day I die -- and who, knows, even after.

  3. Oh Mary, I'm so sorry to hear that you are in that place or, more to the point, that your daughters are somewhere more threatening than the Namibian desert. I hope that everything resolves itself well and quickly but I know that that likely won't be the case--hence the worry.

    The picture? It is pure magic in motion.

  4. Thanks, guys. It's a real comfort to have you to talk with.

  5. Mary, I am so sorry to hear that there is a source of worry so profound for you right now. I know to expect this for the rest of my life, and I am in some way selfishly glad to have your wisdom and to know that I'm not deluding myself, but I am so sorry for the acute worry that you are feeling. I hope that the shadows have lifted or that at least the weather on the horizon is slightly better.

    And the photo really did take my breath away.