Worry beads (hang on, baby)

June 10th, 2013 § 7 comments

IMG_5793I have my list of things I worry about.
First on my mind in the morning,
Last in my head at night.

And if I pop awake In the middle of the night?
Yes, the list is there too.

Across the aisle from me on the train to New York City last time sat a woman.
At one point on the journey she flipped huge black bug-eye sunglasses from the top of her head down over her eyes, her look now an insect dressed in designer clothes.

She reached in her purse,
grabbed a strand of worry beads and started kneading them.

With a rapid-fire reflexiveness she started moving one bead at a time .
Each only moved about half an inch down the string.
From the worry side to the safe side.

I could hear the rhythmic mantra of the beads again and again and again,
Quieter but still audible over the clickity clack pattern of the train itself.

I wondered what her worries were.
I wondered if she would add mine to hers.
Or trade with me, even.

Sometimes we need to do something with that energy.
For her it was tiny movements, thumb and forefinger
Pinching and sliding ivory beads on a round string.

We have our rituals when things get bleak. Some pray.
I do not.

There is a coping that comes with grief, a way to release the tension that grips us when things are bad.
Some days it does feel like it eats from the inside out.

When you must come to terms with what you fear
and what you dread
and all you want to do is lay down on the floor like a petulant two year old
and kick and scream about the unfairness of it all…
As if the universe gives a damn that life hasn’t been fair to you.

Clearly it doesn’t.

So I do not appeal to the universe to change what is.
I turn to my balms. I turn to research.
I turn to science.
I turn to determination and hope which are the last things I can cling to,
fingertip by fingertip,
like the cat on that iconic poster that says “Hang on, baby.”

Inner strength is sheer will.
My claws are firmly entrenched.
There is no other way to be.

There is no justice.
It’s up to me to come to terms with the weighted side.
That is where I live right now.

And so every day, when I wake up in the pre-dawn hours and contemplate my worry list and
come to terms with the day that is about to dawn,
I gather strength,
summoning it from its slumber.

“Here we go,” I say.
“Let’s do this.”
Another day is here.
I will see another.
Hang on, baby.

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§ 7 Responses to Worry beads (hang on, baby)"

  • Kristin says:

    Hang on is right. Whatever else are you to do? Let go? No, not yet. I am sitting in my living room at 5:30 am, windows open for fresh air and bird chirps. My biggest decision right now is when to drink my coffee. If I could take away some of your worries, I surely would. Today is another day, so I will be grateful and hang on to what I have and know that others have it far worse. Hang in there baby…

  • Mary Killian says:

    I have a strand of worry beads that I got on a trip to Greece several years ago. I keep them next to my bed for those sleepless nights. Sometimes I think it’s just the act of distracting the mind with something in the hands. Do they work? Debatable!

    And, yes, it sucks that life is more fair for some than others. I hate that.

    Thinking of you; hang on.

  • Lisa Boone says:

    My dear friend K. is fighting (yes, FIGHTING) stage 4 pancreatic ca. I am learning so much about life by walking this path along side of her. During one of our conversations she was explaining how she had just spent 2 weeks prior to a scan worrying about what the results would be. Then she realized she was spending days in worry, wasting these days she HAD, worrying about whether she would have more days. She turned to me and said — HOW CRAZY IS THAT? Worrying away the days I DO have? So we try our best to focus on today, even though our humanness often trips us up.

    And yes, I will add your worries to mine. I do believe we can share the burden, the weight, through community. Not to say it will lessen your load, but maybe knowing others care will make the burden more manageable.

  • Beautifully put. xo

  • joannefirth says:

    Worry can take up so much energy. Worrying about what we can’t change. Worry, then hope things go our way. At least for today. And if we have today, we can hope we have tomorrow too. So beautiful written.

  • Sharon Martinelli says:

    Lisa, this was beautifully put. I could see the lady clicking her beads, reminding me of the rosary beads my mother would silently click, waiting for her end days as she was ageing. Rituals are sometimes all that sustain us. Like you, I just get up each day and try to live as though there is no tomorrow. Sometimes it means living loudly, rudely, studiously, patient and kind or cantankerous but in the end, it is just still living. You are definitely on my list of people I think about and offer up yoga and meditation classes for. You are the unfortunate guide for so many people who are in the same journey or may one day be there. So, where I don’t spend much time reading blogs these days, I try to never miss yours.

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