21 Mar 2011

Worry for Nothing and You're Thick for Free

2011? Jesus, how did you arrive here - on your dinosaur? Click here to go to hencewise.com, and stop a weirdo holding a candle in the dark, looking all dramatic and old-fashioned.

I have personally found that one of the most positive and liberating attitudes you can cultivate in life is a healthy attitude towards Time. We don't much know about it, but what we all seem to agree on is that, to us at least, it is galloping unrelentingly in a single direction, away from what's happened and towards what's about to. It's unforgiving; not giving you the chance to say the much funnier thing you thought of after the argument. It's indifferent; never arranging the future according to what you would or wouldn’t like to happen to that prick doing a wheelie on his moped. And it's unstoppable; definitely on the way to wherever it’s going, and not about to change for any of your silliness.

And what's the point in worrying about anything that you can't change?

Events that have already happened, of course, fall unquestionably into that category. Until you invent that time machine you're obviously working on, saying things like 'I wish I'd never kicked that dog's eyes off' are always going to be mean exactly nothing. Blaming yourself for what you should have done makes about as much sense as electric soap; you didn't, and now you can't. Sure, you might not like the consequences of your action but that fact is immediately irrelevant. The new reality is that there's a canine missing its retinas, and your 'regrets,' as boring as they are, possess no magical abilities to reattach them. Instead, it's far more productive to think about what you can do presently to improve the situation, rather than what you should have done then to avoid it. Stop worrying. Stop moaning. In fact, stop all your unproductive word-fart nonsense, and redirect that wasted energy into self-improvement – ‘how can I prevent the end of my leg from intersecting puppies' faces in the future?’ you could ask yourself-- or get on your hands and knees, start searching for them corneas, and hope someone's got some sticky tape.

The more you practice this attitude, and it is often as small a thing as the pause it takes for your intellect to overtake your emotional response, the sooner it becomes your default way of dealing with the world, and the less anxiety you'll feel towards anything and everything that's out of your control. As an example, I had one of those boring car crashes a couple of weeks ago -- just smashed my vehicle in to the back of someone else's one for a laugh -- and while my initial jerk reaction was to swear at the boring airbag that didn't even hit my face, only a second or two later I was completely calm again. Really. The new situation - and the fixed state of reality from that point on - was that I now owned a large piece of metal about as useful as Stevie Wonder's telescope, my next insurance policy quote would be about as cheerful as cot death, and I was now a full-time pedestrian again like all the rest of the world’s massive walky wankers.

While it's a fairly simple concept to understand in relation to the past, though, it can be almost equally applicable to the future. 

Expectations, indeed, can be almost as self-destructive as regrets. 

Imagine you're going to an interview for that recently decided career diversion into Veterinary Optometry. Just as you can never know what might have happened if you had made different choices in the past, neither can you predict how the possibilities and potential of your future will arrange themselves as they squeeze through your present and into the growing prison of your past. Yeah. Sure, you can choose how to dress, how you present yourself, and how you prepare, but beyond that, once again, you’re at the mercy of the Universe. You can't control who interviews you, what they want, or manage what they'll think of you and your past discretions with the fragile, frontend of a German Shepherd. You can't control the kind of room you're entering, the atmosphere waiting inside, or whether you’ll be allergic to the chair. You can't control the questions you'll be asked, or what already exists in your head with which you can answer them. You can't know or change who else will apply for the job, what the interviewer thinks of them, how they'll compare to you, or how many animals they’ve punted in the chops. Worrying about the future is as unhealthy as the past because, almost equally, you cannot control it. 

You can only react to it.

With no expectations, you cannot be surprised. With no expectations, you cannot be disappointed.

In terms of unnecessary things to worry about, the Future might as well join the bulging, heaving pile of nonsense things we fret about unnecessarily.

Death. The Past. Your height. Other people’s stupidity. Aging. Your parents. George Lucas cashing in on Star Wars. Pandas not humping. Continental drift. Your skin colour. Your gender. Your genes. Yoko Ono. When all of these inevitable facts are raked in to the same dark and dusty corners of the mind where Catholics store scientific facts and their repressed childhood memories, the real priorities that deserve our attention begin to emerge and become clear. Once you let go of the things that are beyond your control, you can hold much tighter on to the things that are left within it. If you prevent wasting energy where it’s useless, it’s more available for where it can make a difference.

Now please open your Handy Gandhi pocket notebooks, skip past the photo where he looks like Gollum's just re-emerged from the caves with a degree and a bed sheet, and jot down the following in the Shit He Probably Said First section:

You can't change what people think of you, but you can change how you treat them.

You can't change your body, but you can appreciate it.

You can't change your past, but you can accept it.

You can't change that you'll die, but you can change how you live.

You can't change the world, but you can change yourself to fit better in it. 

2011? Jesus, how did you arrive here - on your dinosaur? Click here to go to hencewise.com, and stop a weirdo holding a candle in the dark, looking all dramatic and old-fashioned.