I was on vacation for a few weeks and I spent a lot of time worrying. I read the newspapers and worried about the news. I looked in the sky and worried about the weather. I looked in the mirror ... you get the picture.
Since coming home I have continued worrying. But I have concluded that I would rather be on vacation, worrying, than at home.
I have always worried. I am a connoisseur of worry.
In my career as a worrier I have worried about the distant future, about the recent past, about the heavy present, about people I like, about people I dislike, about cars, about grass, about drinking water, schools, directions, what to order from a menu, about illness, assembly instructions, projections, aging, the Knicks, weight gain, weight loss, whether the coupons in my wallet would be honored, whether there would be peace and prosperity in the world, ever, for everyone.
But having worried on vacation and worried at home I can say unequivocally that I would rather worry on vacation because the quality of worry is better there.
It's more abstract. You don't have distractions. I didn't have to worry for instance about that flapping noise that's been coming from the front wheels of our Ford for the past six months. (What the hell is that?) We left the Ford at home. I didn't spend important minutes worrying about bills. They just piled up inside the door, collecting valuable penalty and interest points beyond my worry radar.
On vacation, instead, I can stretch my capacity for anxiety wider and deeper than otherwise possible. We visited some places, for instance, that I had seen before -- but long ago, when I was just 19 or 20. They were ancient places, very old castles. Ruins. Farmland in cultivation since the Neolithic age. Buildings made with mortar mixed during the Middle Ages. They hadn't changed at all since I last saw them at 19 or 20. They were monuments of relative eternity whereas I, 30 years later, (holy epiphany!) realized that I ... was not a monument of relative eternity. In fact, standing before these things, I had the distinct feeling that I was on one of those moving sidewalks they have now at the airports. Only I wasn't.
Here, for the worrier, is the ultimate homeland of worry -- a worry so big you can walk around and around inside it, waving greetings to all the generations of now dead people who have been inside it before and never solved the problem.
Even the day's news and the fading hope for peace in my time cannot hold a candle to the delicious, 10-course worry that is served up on any person of a certain age (and disposition) who comes face to face with antiquities:
They stay. We go. Uh-oh.
Funny, though. It's the most liberating of all the worries, in a way. If I were writing the restaurant review, I would say of this worry that it was "bracing, yet strangely exhilarating ... A collision of the sweet and sour ... A multi-layered feast ... "
As a worrier of long experience, I would have to say it's my favorite. It's the one where, no matter how we bang our heads against the walls of it, life goes on.
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