Sammy the Parrot

Some people were born with the ability to swing a golf club, run really fast or perform a double crossover, step back fade away jumper. My God-given skill appears to be the ability worry.

My OCD generates in a day what amounts to a lifetime’s worth of worry for most. Worry lives in the future. That is its breeding ground. It starts to fester, and then it grows, exponentially like the number of offensive things Donald Trump says giving a speech.

When we feel anxiety it most likely because we are worrying about something that, may or may not happen. Common sense would tell us then, that worry is a rather pointless endeavor.

Some argue, that worry & anxiety are necessary. It keeps us safe. It stops most of us from doing stupid shit, like jumping off buildings or going to a John Mayer concert. The kind of anxiety I deal with is not the helpful kind. It is utterly debilitating, soul crushing. It can make getting out of bed some mornings a strenuous task.

I live everyday wondering; will my greatest fears come true? What if I die, leaving my wife to raise our young son by herself? What if after 7 long years my business fails? What career options if any will I have? While my contemporaries have steadily progressed in their chosen profession becoming vice presidents or department heads, I’ve been fraught with getting a brownie business off the ground.

In my mind if this business fails, I will be relegated to a life of delivering subs in 5 minutes or less for Jimmy Johns.

Worry, worry, worry. What if, what if, what if. Nonstop, twenty-four fucking seven! Yes, I worry in my sleep.

To never enjoy the present moment because you are constantly worried about the future is exhausting and joy robbing. As I mentioned in a previous post I’m pretty damn good at squandering some joy.

I’ve lived a relatively good life. I’ve not experienced any terrible hardships, except for the time my wife made me watch “The Notebook.” That was a truly awful movie. Maybe this is the reason I worry so much.

You want to know what type of people don’t let worry or the fear of failure determine their path in life? People who have lost everything or suffered hardships most of us could never imagine.

Have you ever noticed those who come out the other side of tragedy have a capacity for joy us worriers envy? I venture to say there are people dying of cancer right now, who worry less about death then I do.

Like anything in life you can trace it back to Seinfeld. George had volunteered to spend time with the elderly. The man he was paired with explained to George that he is grateful for every moment he has and does not worry about death.

George responds in typical George fashion, “Grateful? How can you be grateful when you’re so close to the end? When you know that any second—poof! Bamm-O! It can all be over.”

What this man realizes that George does not is worrying about dying serves no purpose. That is not to say he is in denial. He realizes the clock is winding down. As George says, “I mean you’re not stupid, you can read the handwriting on the wall. It’s a matter of simple arithmetic, for Gods sake…”

The old man faced his fear, accepted the fact he could die and will die but rather than worry he lives his life grateful for each moment.

What does this mean for me? You guessed it. I’ve got to sit with what scares me most which is a pretty long and say fuck you!

One thing my therapist taught me is to visualize whatever my worry is at the moment, bring it forefront in my mind and with every fiber of being want it to come true. Better yet imagine it has come true.

My strategy to date has been to white knuckle my way through the anxiety. I grip the liven shit out of it. Like I’m on a plane that is hurdling towards the ground, people shitting their pants, kids crying, that kind of white knuckling. When the anxiety passes, I wipe my brow, kiss the ground and thank God I came out without a scratch.

The problem is I didn’t come out unharmed. I merely further ingrained the fear into my psyche. I griped tightly, hoping I’d get a certainty what I fear most, won’t come true. The problem with this approach is it makes the fear stronger. Fear feeds off this shit. It loves it when I white knuckle. All the while I’ve wasted away another precious moment of my life, worrying and for what?

I think it is time for a new strategy. As much as it pains me, my therapist is right. You have got to face your fears head on. Completely and totally open yourself up to the possibility it might happen. I might die. My business might fail and I could lose everything.

I could go literally insane, trapped, locked in a perpetual state of panic. Which at that point my wife and family would cart me off to the nearest psych ward strapped to a gurney, drooling while sitting in a pile of my own excrement. It is here where I would spend the rest of my days eating pureed foods and playing scrabble with my imaginary parrot, Sammy.

When you face your worst fears, they lose their power. Once you’ve come to terms with what “could” happen those fears no longer have anything to hold onto.

Rob Bell(@realrobbell and robbell.com) touched on this on a recent podcast. He said, “When you are willing to face all your worst fears about what could happen and you realize all you are left with is this moment, now you are free to actually enjoy it. It could all go wrong, but right now it is not and you get to live this moment.”

This makes so much sense, but it is really, really hard to do. Just to reiterate, it is really yard, really fucking hard. You need to get a pair of giant cojones or borrow someone else’s.

So what is my new strategy? My new strategy is to throw myself completely into my business, knowing full well it might fail. I could end up delivering subs, but fuck it, right now I can take all that energy I use worrying and put it into my business. Working to create a life I envisioned for me and my family.

The next time I find myself obsessing about death, going crazy or having a full-blown panic attack I will stop what I’m doing, look up at the sky and as loud as I can say take me now you son of bitch! I’m not entirely sure who I will be talking to, but you get the idea. If you are going to kill me, fucking kill me. If I’m going to go crazy, then let’s go. BRING IT ON, make me go crazy.

I’m willing to accept the fact I may spend the rest of my life getting my ass handed to me in a game of scrabble with Sammy the parrot. But I really don’t want that. Do you?

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