People sitting on their own
Today’s diary is occasioned by a remark someone in our church made to me when I was sitting by myself in an armchair in the church hall as a produced to the church meeting. The evening of yesterday was bad for me. I had been unwise enough to take a coffee with my cake at four pm in the afternoon. I should have learned better but there is something in the coffee that while unclean reacts with me. It was not on like taking poison. So everything came up again, range of energy and felt unable to eat any other food. I still naively take the purity of food for granted but there are many chemicals within that we would do better to be without.
Any way, the lady who is called Jane asked me whether I wanted to be left on my own which started a very interesting conversation, to me. It is true that sometimes I do need to sit on my own just to watch the world go by when I am out but normally when I go to a meeting I go because I want to meet some people. Today however my behavior was uncharacteristic which probably caused one or two people to ask questions. It is true that even with friends and associates present, I do like to sit on my own. That is normally when I have had a very good and long conversation which was very exercising and from which I needed to have a pause or a paragraph break if you like.
It is also true as on this occasion that I had still not returned to normal and standing and walking around was not a pleasant experience so I was trying to do duty of care to myself and so I sat down and stared into the distance. My difficulty is to distinguish between my physical and my mental state. My physical state said ‘please sit down Brian’. My mental state was as keen as ever and I was quite happy to engage. Is it difficult to tell at conferences and so on when people are sitting on their own, whether they actually want to be away from others or whether they are in a way iinviting others to come and sit down and engage with them. If they are at such an event I would inclined towards the latter.
However in some cases, the body language is a dead giveaway. If someone is scowling, staring down at their feet, heavily engaged in a book, it is properly wise not to approach them. I suppose we could try a greeting such as hello and see if anything happens.
From the Christian viewpoint we could say that Jesus himself was approachable. As we would say these days, he gave out the right vibes. It was known that he associated with all sorts of people including pharisees harlots and sinners, so that gives us a clue about the sort of person we really should be, or perhaps a role model for us.
Which is a slightly different situation if a person is in a public place such as a park. As you must all know by now I do enjoy speaking to complete strangers and normally open my remarks by saying something outrageous. If there are other people around I think it is a safe thing to do if you have something to say. The English habit is to open a conversation with a remark on the weather or some peculiarity that is going on locally and you will know from the reaction whether they are quite happy to continue. If they do not, you back off, smile, move on and no harm is done.
Paradoxically, a safe space for conversation are waiting lines or queues as we call them here in England or any sort of accident or catastrophe for example of flood or an accident. This gives people free reign to engage with anyone and everyone and it is almost the expected thing. It’s as if strangers need an excuse to talk to each other.
I don’t mind people talking to me so long as they are civil and talk sense. I have noticed there are some people particularly on public transport including buses who have no boundaries at all and they try to include other people in on their personal matters almost egging them on to be on one side or another. In one case I suffered a one person that download their entire medical history to me without being asked. This can happen when you show the slightest signs of Interest such as raising an eyebrow or saying excuse me. These people I find are insensitive and needy and I tend to avoid them by turning away. I find it a subtle form of energy assault.
Another form of energy assault is complaining about something. It is obvious that the person is perpetually discontented and will complain about the way they have been wronged or harmed and this can go on for a long time with many repetitions. In my experience these people never listen even if you try to be constructive in your reply and our best left alone.
It does get considerably worse when a group of say two or three people particularly younger people start to shout at you or make comments. My instinct in this case is to ‘exit stage left’ as soon as possible
Caution particularly applies when alcohol is obviously the cause and violence either verbal or physical is not far behind. In this case, I pay attention and look out for trouble before it comes. I am quite lucky that I have not been assaulted and hope that the day never comes. I think that is a good record for someone who is nearly 80 years of age the man must say I feel about 60 but that is not relevant to this discussion.
Today’s address was about worrying.
St. Matthew has a lot to say about worrying. Here is a very chunky quote from his sixth chapter of his epistle.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g
28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I admit I have a great capacity for worrying about things large and small and I do admit that most of it is a waste of energy though I am finally learning to accept things as they are.
Anyway it is worth looking at the meaning of the word and its usage. It appears in many languages with a definition of slightly different in each
# to cover, defend, guard, to cover, shelter, defend, guard, shut
# To thwart, to stop. To ward off, to defend against.
# To curse. To fordeem; condemn.
# (intransitive) To be troubled, to give way to mental anxiety.. (transitive) Disturb the peace of mind of; afflict with mental agitation or distress.. (transitive) To harass; to irritate or distress.. (transitive) To seize or shake by the throat, especially of a dog or wolf.. (transitive) To touch repeatedly, to fiddle with.. (transitive, obsolete, except in Scots) To strangle.
Examples in common usage
I worry that my friend is not going to come out of hospital
I worry about the things that might happen to my child
I worry that extremists might gain control
I am worried by the behavior of my friend
My symptoms do not worry me
My family is over a shadowed by a financial worry
My dogs would worry sheep given half a chance
‘Why didn’t you tell us?’—’I didn’t want to worry you.’
Don’t you worry that other people are discussing a matter behind your back
I worry in case I can’t find a charging point for my car
These quotes cover a multitude of sins. So many contexts. We need to do some analysis to see exactly what we are suffering from.
There are two sources of worry.
1. A situation that is inherently unstable and which has a possibility of affecting you adversely. A good example is a court case where you are not sure that your case will be heard fairly or whether your council will represent you vigorously enough. Another example is an unpredictable person in your life who is capable of disturbing you in such a ways to reduce the quality of your life.
2. How you react to a situation. You could do so by closing off or being anxious about it, or let it bother you, or become agitated, or become apprehensive, or just be uneasy.
How then do we take steps to reduce focus on worry and the stress upon us. The Christian would say trust in God. He is in control. I’m not sure if that will work for most people.
Let’s have a look what notable people have said about worrying. The first three quotes are from Roy Bennett
“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”
“Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.”
“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie Ten Boom
“The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.” ― Rick Warren, The Purpose of Christmas
“Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” ― Shantideva
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” ― Benjamin Franklin
What can we learn?
The message that I get from the above is ‘ what is the benefit of worrying’ and ‘what can we change by the act or worrying or fretting?’. The world situation is as it is for many reasons and in a way you can see that worry is a negative feeling because it assumes that things will go wrong or not turn out right. As I said to my little group this morning ‘in spite of all our worrying, here we are to tell the tale’.
If something is confronting us on a continual basis it would make sense to me to share it with other people and I am not saying in a formal counseling situation but rather a sharing.
The people who run the world have money and power and we have neither but we do have the ability to raise our consciousness and be in the clear blue sky or flying at 30,000 feet rather than indeed turbulence of 10,000 feet. I do not consider this escapism but rather realism because we have two maintain our mentality in order to serve those around us.
Also it is worth associating ourselves with people who feel in the same way because in unity lies strength and stability. One piece of coal cannot make a fire. We need to arraign ourselves sensibly and take care of ourselves less with become unstable and dysfunctional.
We may be worrying needlessly because we don’t have access to the facts so in a brave moment we could confront the particular situation or the person and try and ascertain the real situation. It can worry be seen as absence of fact?
I think we should distinguish worrying from being concerned about or having responsibility for. The latter are more pragmatic and less emotional but of course emotions may be involved.