Worry

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Only time will tell . . . also the title of a fine song by the band Asia

Lately I’ve struggled with worry, especially worrying about the people I love most. How will my daughter make her way into the world? How long will my parents live? The list goes on.

I rarely worry about me. I try to do what I can with each day and hope that everything I did today helps soften tomorrow.

I know that worry is full of empty promise. It tempts with the illusion that we can predict the future, yet our inability to be certain of the future is a great mercy. If we knew all of the hard times ahead, would we want to go on? The bad may be endured because good surprises us along the way.

It is possible that I worry most about the people I love because I cannot control their fate like I can my own, and I am not quite ready to accept this fact.

Railroad Flight

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In Lima, Ohio

Usually I govern my driving with all sorts of rules to keep anxiety at bay. Don’t drive at night. Avoid left turns if at all possible. Parallel parking? No way. There is one traffic situation in which caution escapes me: a railroad crossing with no threat of a train passing anytime soon. Maybe it was all the Starsky and Hutch I watched in the 70’s, but I do like to make my car take flight on the tracks from time to time. When I get the oil changed on my car, the tires usually need rebalanced, too.

There are so many opportunities for flight in my city since it is littered with all kinds of railroad tracks. Once I was taking a coworker home and punctuated a speech on how terrified I am at driving in ice and snow by flying over the tracks. It was two months before the threat of snow that year, so I had plenty of bravery left in me. I did not premeditate this flight or its timing. My moments of absurdity can never be contrived.

My daring in these moments is a tribute of sorts to the role the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad played in my genesis. Both of my grandfathers and one of my great grandfathers worked for the B&O. My maternal great grandfather was a close friend and coworker to my paternal grandfather. My mom needed a ride home from work, so Great Grandpa called my future Grandpa and asked him if he knew anyone who could give Mom a ride on short notice. Dad was chosen to pick up Mom. They were married six months later.

I wonder if he flew over the railroad tracks in his GTO on the way to pick up Mom.

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At work on the B&O Railroad – second from left is my great grandpa William Clinton Oard, second from right is my grandpa Paul Sheets

The Wolf

I suppose that my taste in music should not be trusted because my hearing is poor on one side. There are only two acoustic settings in which I can truly enjoy a song, while using decent headphones or listening in a car. In other places I lose too many sonic details to engage my attention fully on music. While I can hear enough to decide whether a song merits a closer listening, I cannot “lose myself” in a song if I hear it on TV, on a stereo, etc.

There have been many songs I have wanted to listen to repeatedly for a time, ┬álike a musical serial monogamy. I like to exhaust the captivating feelings a song provokes until eventually it holds me spellbound only occasionally. One such song is “The Wolf” by Mumford and Sons.

Like any work of the imagination, the meaning of a song is open to interpretation, and I am biased toward finding if a song could be a soundtrack for someone I know. Ordinarily there is not much point to explicating a song as if one were writing a term paper on a poem. While it is not uncommon to hear a tune and temporarily adopt it as a theme song, it is more unusual to listen to a song and consider that it could capture how someone else might see you. This is the case with my impression of “The Wolf”.

As I listen to this song, I think that it is about loving someone who is prone to anxiety. The person loved can get so mired in fear that they may be not be fully engaged in the relationship or life beyond their worries. The first time I heard it, I was struck by the notion that it could describe what it is like for my husband to love me. There are times when I am stuck in the reverie of imagining small or major catastrophes and lose sight of him. I worry that he will grow weary of hearing me explain boundaries that help me ward off the things that bother me, such as avoiding left turns whenever possible. I appreciate his compassion for my issues, and this song reminds me that I would benefit from trying to take his perspective. That is one of the healing aspects of love, the opportunity to see things through someone else’s eyes. With the anxiety I have at times, it is a relief to borrow a different vantage point for a while.

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