I envy my dog at times. I suppose it’s because he seems perpetually happy—aside from the instances during which his neurotic little soul is seized by that which triggers a barking frenzy (i.e. when he encounters joggers with or without headbands, school buses and garbage trucks, people who ostensibly smell funny and practically every sound of undetermined origin). For the most part, however, his days are filled with the quiet contentment of gnawing on Barbie dolls and plastic dinosaurs, hauling underwear and sweat socks into the kitchen with glee and, of course, whizzing indiscriminately. In a word, he doesn’t worry his fuzzy little head over much of anything—even as newscasters here and abroad deliver disturbing bulletins day in and day out as a matter of course.
Indeed, my dear dog is blissfully unaware of all the horrible things that have happened across the globe (or that may occur) on any given day. That said, he is largely unaffected by reports of natural disasters, financial ruin, personal tragedies, heinous crimes, political upheaval and societal unrest. Never mind the special brand of awful that occasionally befalls our happy home. Simply put, his pea brain is incapable of processing such information; ergo he lacks the ability to catastrophize events like I do. And by catastrophize I mean to paint every picture with the worst-case scenario brush and to become deeply consumed with worry and dread over that which will probably never happen anyway.
Granted there are plenty of things in my life that represent legitimate causes for concern—my parents’ health, my daughter having recently totaled her car and the uncertain nature of my roof and refrigerator, circa the Paleozoic Era. Need I even mention my dog’s crippling affinity for hamsters, coupled with an eagerness to sample the wee furry beasts—or my husband’s beloved cell phone, which has been MIA for 22 days running? Not that anyone’s been counting. Alright we’ve been counting. And pacing. And wringing our hands in exasperation.
However the vast majority of stressing I do is patently absurd. I worry about becoming discombobulated in public, about our pet frogs reproducing to an unprecedented and unmanageable degree, about the prospect of our obscenely overloaded garage harboring some sort of immune-resistant virus involving fetid soccer cleats, about the frightening odds of our children marrying Republicans. I also trouble myself with the notion that my husband will one day wise up and leave me, opting for the greener pastures of normalcy. What’s more, I fret about the contents of my kids’ backpacks and whether or not they remembered to pack library books and snacks. I obsess over the color of their socks, the integrity of their bike helmets and the current state of their toenails. Coughs bother me, too. As do unexplained rashes and nosebleeds.
Admittedly, I am a fusspot-of-a-mother and I spend way too much time in a not-so-quiet state of panic over decidedly remote possibilities—like pandemics spread by way of earwax, apocalyptic wars over the fate of the new (and purportedly improved) Facebook and world domination by creatures (think: giant spiders!) whose hideousness has yet to be fully imagined. For the record, I won’t be seeing Contagion anytime soon and I was all but convinced that a bus-sized chunk of space debris that was destined to fall from the sky last week would land squarely on our home. Indeed, I have issues.
Clearly I would do well to refrain from inviting fear and worry into my world. To stop thinking about all the thinking I do. To spend a moment inside my dog’s carefree little mind, basking in the glory of oblivion. But perhaps what I need more than anything, as my friend Sally recently suggested, are stabilizers—the sort that steady ships in rough seas, providing a goodly measure of stability and assurance for all concerned. Yep. Stabilizers—for every neurotic corner of my life.
Then again, the Land of Oblivion carries a certain appeal, too.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (envying my dog). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.
Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel