If you live in Albany, did you catch the sky at sunset tonight? It was all cotton candy magnificence. I saw it by accident through the upstairs bathroom window, and it caught me at just the right moment: I’d been fretting about something over which I have no control, which is, of course, the nature and boundless asininity of fretting. One never frets over the distressingly few things over which one has control, such as whether or not to floss before bedtime. (“Aggghhhh! I wish I knew! The suspense is killing me! Crap crap crap!”) Instead one frets over the infinite number of things outside our own personal agency. If we have no authority or power to act — and if we forget, for some long moment, that surrender is our only real and rational option — we brood.
I was brooding earlier tonight. But then I glimpsed the sunset, and the cloud of fuss suddenly lifted, whiffed away by those ribbons of pink and blue.
A similar lightening of spirit had occurred over the weekend, as I tooled through light whorls of snow along the Petersburg Pass to Williamstown. Once again, I was stewing. Once again, it concerned a matter over which I have no control. But then, mid-fret, I came around that glorious, mountainous, rising curve that swings into the Berkshires with an abruptness that always shocks me; I’ve driven that road a thousand times, and still, that morning, it caught me unawares. And I stopped fretting. Not only that: I felt like a boob for having fretted at all. Why should I chafe over little nothings, when the world can throw such beauties in my midst? They rise out of nowhere with the force and largeness of truth.
That’s what matters. Not that niggling, nagging stuff. And when the awful shit lands, the real shit, worrying won’t fix that, either.
Sometimes, flipping through the bible at night, my thumb lands on a passage from Matthew that addresses the boobishness of worry: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Ummm, no. Definitely not. That there is one apt rhetorical question, Jesus. And yet I do it. I worry. I did it again in the bathroom tonight, right there at the sink, just by the floss — which actually might add an hour to my life. But then I looked over and saw the sky, and I opened the window, and I snapped a picture, and I smiled. No more fretting. For now.