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Gratitude

I hate to admit this, but I have spent much of my life worrying and further to this, worrying about the fact that I worry so much. Perhaps it’s by virtue of being a Virgo. I don’t lend (too) much credence to astrology, but I must say that the traditional Virgo traits nearly (more like do!) describe me to a tee. On the positive side, that is if the following can be considered positive, Virgos are traditionally: modest and shy; meticulous and reliable; practical and diligent; and intelligent and analytical. On the “dark” side, Virgos are: fussy and worriers; overcritical and harsh; and perfectionists and conservative.

I certainly don’t have a restful mind. I analyze – perhaps overanalyze is the operative word – almost everything. I’m not content for very long. Once I achieve or accomplish something I experience what can only be described as momentary happiness, because my contentedness is soon followed by one, or all, of the following thoughts: “What next?”; “Is that it?”; “Perhaps it’s not so significant if I could do it?”. It’s a bit ridiculous, I know.

You know you’re a big worrier when it’s evident to others, particularly perfect strangers, that you’re worrying, when you can’t even hide your worry from their eyes – eyes that shouldn’t necessarily be attuned to you, a complete foreigner to their lives. On countless occasions I’ve been asked whether something’s wrong. I attribute this to my seriousness and pensiveness – I’m a thinker and as a by-product of thinking, perhaps my brows furrow involuntarily. It’s like the switch for a lightbulb. The bulb can’t help but be lit when the switch activates the electric current.

Can you believe that I even worry about furrowing my brows? My friends and family (and perhaps some colleagues) know that I’m a worrier, but I don’t need the whole world to know. I worry about developing a deep groove between my eyebrows, a chasm the size of which can only be found in the mountain ranges of Everest, and then everyone would know how much of a worrier I am. Not only would I look like a big worrier, I’d look old on top of it. Besides being a worrier, as may already be evident, I also have an over/hyperactive imagination. Oy vey.

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My mother has, over the years, made attempts to help me minimize my worrying. If any people have had extreme worries in their lives, it’s my mother and father. They were a young married couple with an infant daughter who fled their native land because of a military coup. They started a new life in Canada and there were only brief moments of career and financial stability. They were always playing catch-up. I liken it to being in a race, standing at the starting line and after the “pow” of the starting gun, being held back, prevented from bolting on time from the starting blocks, and then forced to run with added weights preventing one from reaching full-stride.

My parents have had reason to worry – about paying rent on time, about paying tuition, bills, and about feeding three children and contesting with all of the potential perils that children can encounter – on a nearly non-existent salary. They’ve worried about evictions and their futures and their pasts that brought them to a paycheque to paycheque present. They’ve had real reason to be in states of distress. They sheltered my brothers and I (and continue to shelter us) from most of what has made them anxious.

I will probably never have to flee my familiar surroundings to live somewhere else as a refugee, where my credentials will be disregarded although they were well-earned and valid. My future children will likely live in a family where mom and dad are middle class; where there’s steady income, and the reason for a dissenting response to their request is not because mom and dad don’t have the money – because they need to choose between groceries or satiating their child’s desire for the latest trendy item – but because they need to learn that they can’t have everything, if only to prevent them from being spoiled.

There are people all over the world who have reason to be apprehensive in comparison to someone like me. I’m free from most of the dangers and barriers in life. I can’t say that I’ve ever worried extensively about any personal endangerment aside from the occasional walk home alone at night where  I’ve considered my vulnerability and the possibility of violent and sexual aggression from a stranger. I can walk down the streets, dressed how I please…freely. I have the sort of career opportunities and prospects that women of earlier generations (and in other countries) could only dream of. I have a steady income during one of the most significant recessions we’ve ever seen.

I began a piece entitled “Gratitude” with a lament about worry because I feel as though worries get in the way of living in the moment and acknowledging what is great. It obviously doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to this conclusion, but for someone who worries to the lengths and depths that I do, I sometimes have difficulty fully believing and feeling this.

Perhaps if I could experience a prolonged sense of being content, I might even jump up and down with joy every once in awhile. I think that I can count the number of times I’ve done so in my lifetime on one hand. Yes, we all experience and live out our happiness in different ways, but sometimes I wish that I was one of those jump up and down with joy kind of people.

Goodness knows I have a lot to be grateful for. If I were one of those ‘jump-up-and-down people’, and, let’s say, I made a list of all the things I have to be grateful for, and jumped with joy, with gratitude for each of those things, I would be jumping for a very long time.

Gratitude
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