We all worry. We are concerned about the corners of our own little worlds. We worry about our home, our work, our finances, our relationships, our health, our achievements, and we worry about those we care about.
The worry in our lives is the pavement we walk on. It’s hard and grey. The Buddhists call it samsara, a state characterised by anxiety and suffering. We recognise the repeated patterns in our minds. We travel the same circles, like a pedestrian walking round and round the same block of roads. Etched into our brains are grooves of thinking; we rehearse the same concerns again and again.
Worry is the pavement we walk on, until we realise that we have a choice. Just as a pedestrian can choose where to walk, so we can choose where to take our minds. A walker takes a left, and finds their way to the woods. They walk among the trees, bathe in birdsong, enjoy the sweep of leaves under their feet, and watch the sun play through the branches.
Is life so simple, that we can choose to change the direction of our thought, and walk in better places? How does a mind escape the circle of usual worry, and get some degree of freedom?
There will always be housework to do. We wake, and our bodies need dressing. We need food three times a day. Wherever we live, there is always maintenance to be done. The borders need firming, the land needs tending, the house needs renovating, friendships need maintaining, and we ourselves need healthy habits.
Our minds have an architecture which helps us do these chores. We are watchful about our appearance, our food, our possessions, our relationships, and our health. This is natural, but our bodies overdo the concern. We get upset if we look wrong, if our possessions get damaged, or if people behave wrongly towards us. This over-concern does us damage, makes us react in unhelpful ways.
We need to occupy ourselves and our minds better. We need just enough concern to do our maintenance, but we need not extend it into worry. We can walk on the grey pavements as long as necessary, but then we can seek out the woods, the sunshine, and the birds. We knew this as children, when we rushed out and about when we could. We didn’t have mortgages, mouths to feed, jobs, financial balances to strike. Our bias was towards play.
Instead of being predictably worried, something in you still wants to play. What is ‘play’ for you these days? What stimulates you into a smile, makes you walk a little faster. What would you like to visit? Whom would you like to see?