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From Here to Eternity

Sarabjeet D Natesan

Author: Sarabjeet D Natesan

Date: Fri, 2017-09-15 14:08

I worry. A lot.

However, I hardly worry about myself. I just like the idea of worry; to me, it is to be concerned, to be involved, to show that I care and to understand the circumstances that others are in.

As a kid, I used to worry about my parents, my sisters, my friends, my dog and my nanny and housekeeper who was affectionately called ‘Massi”. Massi was about 65 and had shocking white hair and a damaged eye. In her youth, she had been hurt by a cow that she was trying to milk and since then her right eye was half shut. It gave her a very intimidating look and it gave me a tremendous worry about cows. I would imagine many situations involving cows and people close to me getting hurt. Massi’s half shut eye also got very worried about eye injuries. When Massi got angry at us, which was not very often, she would pull up her eyes to her forehead and there would be a glint in the right eye and that gave me some really serious worry. My worry also extended to my dogs; Timzy, Naffy, Sparky running out of the house due to the front gate carelessly left open. I would be sitting in the class room but my entire attention would be on the front gate, willing it to stay shut. Our house help would hand wash our clothes and dry them in the area outside of the house, I would sit and worry if the clothes are on the clothesline or have they been blown away by the wind; this despite having strong wooden pegs holding them down. I had planted a young sapling in my garden and for a very long time, I worried about it getting eaten up by insects or birds. I would sit beside it for hours trying to ward off an imaginary adversary. I would worry if my mother was late from work, if my sisters’ school bus did not get them home on time, if my father’s flights were delayed. I just worried about everything I could think of. And I always thought to myself that my worry prevents anything from happening and would pat myself on the back!

As I grew older, these worries were replaced by other worries. I worried about my job, about my children’s wellbeing, about the state of the nation, about the anger in the society, about the quality of water, about the carpool in the morning, about the maid not turning up for work, about the washing machine giving up on me, about the guests coming over for dinner, about the birthday party I had to plan, about the gas cylinder running out, about just the very ordinary and the mundane. These worries were technically not worries but gave me a lot to do and kept me from higher order worries. And for the time being, I was happy to worry about things that I could manage.

The higher order worries that these small ones helped me to avoid were always about my parents. As I was growing old, so were they. My frequent visits home were getting less frequent, with school schedules and exams factored in. My mother would call and ask me when I was visiting; enticing me with offers of my favorite meals and bottles of homemade pickles and stories about family members; my father would hesitatingly inquire when I was visiting and happily offer to buy my tickets to get me home. Each trip home found my parents frailer and weaker than before. The slow process of aging was on a fast track and I could do nothing to prevent it despite all my worry. And that really worried me.

My parents were in reasonable health and independent and were doing things that made them happy but they were lonely and my constant worry was what if my mother’s arthritis gave her too much trouble, what if my mother fell, what if she is not able to manage her pain, what if my father was not well to take care of my mother, what if they were alone when something bad happened, what if ..., I could not face the last question. In my desperation to do something about my worry, I asked my parents to move in with me. To leave their home of 50 years and travel over state lines and live in a strange new place. I figured that I would have my parents and my kids in one place and could easily contain all my worries.

I was convinced about my plans and thought that my parents would be overjoyed at the suggestion. My father heard me out patiently as was his wont, and said to me that all your worries are about a progression of life, about coming full circle. Quoting the Guru Granth he said, ‘Jo upjo so binas, paro aaj ke kaal’, whatever is born, must also be destroyed, today or tomorrow. You are worried about a certainty, learn to worry only if something unforeseen happens ‘Chinta ta ki kijiai, jo anhoni hoe’. And there is nothing about life that is unpredictable. I argued with my father, told him that I wanted them to be with me forever. My father related a small story to me.  It was about a blind man, who went to Guru Nanak and asked that his eye sight be restored. Guru Nanak smiled and said to him that of all the things you could ask for, you ask for something that you will lose again one day!

I did not force my parents to move but made sure that I visited them as often as I could, and made them travel often to meet me.  I wonder where I would be today if my father had not spoken those words to me; I would be a mess of worry, concern, and anxiety about something so capricious, that not only I, no one else can control. My worries are still there, sometimes they sneak up on me, and at other times I manage to push them away. I am learning to separate my worries; things where I can control the outcomes from those which create a black hole of disquiet. I have also understood that worry will exist as long as there is life. I have also understood that worrying does not help. I have also understood that regardless of all this understanding, I will worry from here to eternity.

Meanwhile, if you have any worry, you can outsource it to me!                       

 

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Comments

I completely agree with you ma'am. Worrying has become like an integral part of life. Be it any part of life, often we worry about things. Some of them would be important life changing decisions and as in most of the cases would be trivial things. Early in childhood it used to be about doing homework and exams, We grew up to worry about future. Whether I should take science or commerce. What will happen in future? Lot of more which came in as we grew further. Now the interesting thing to note is even though we have no clue about what future has in store for us, we still worry. What's the point of worrying about something we can't do anything about. I may be criticized for this. You would say that even though we don't know what future holds for us but by choosing a correct curse of action we can steer our future and increase the chances of it being good. To this I would completely agree and this is something I have learned growing up in life. What I would to say here is that, there is still no need to worry. Worrying stresses your brain. stress in turn negatively affects your creativity and novelty. So you are not able to think through. That is the decision you would take and the performance you deliver would not be the best one you are capable of. As a result, you are impacting your future. Now this becomes a vicious circle. Under performance leads to un-expected results which leads to worry and again to under performance and so on. So idea is to not worry but focus on present, give your best and good results will cheer you up leading to again no cause of worry.

Dear Bhawna, I guess it never ends. Life progresses and so do the worries. My worries were about an integral part of my life, my parents. This is a reflective piece, you are perhaps too young to have such worries! I wish you all the best life has to offer. Regards, Sarabjeet

I was so relieved after reading this, that there is someone else too who shares this nature with me. Ma’am even I have this habit of worrying about anything and everything. In my case these worries, this nature of mine is referred to as overthinking. My mind is never at peace and I am constantly thinking about something. Even while I am writing this I am thinking about my day ahead, worried that I have so much to do, worried that my best friend is organizing an event and I can’t even call her up, worried about mom’s knee problem as her workload has increased these days and there are no helping hands, worried about the fact that I won’t be able to meet my family for another fortnight... Even when I am completely at peace, or on a trip I am constantly thinking about planning the trip ahead and making sure that it is perfect. I am usually sure about the big decisions that I take in life but constantly worried about people around me. Though I have come to terms with this nature of mine, it has given me a permanent problem “migraine”. I have consulted several doctors for this, with nothing much fruitful coming out of it. I still remember, when my parents asked doctor if there is any cure for migraine or if we can find out the root cause of the pain. Doctor said, “Ma’am you will get a Nobel prize if you can cure this human nature problem”. On that day when I sat with my Dad he asked me, why am I worrying about everything. He said “Shraddha, I am still sitting here alive. You don’t have to worry about anything”. At that moment, I suddenly got a secured feeling and knew I have to fight this habit of mine not only to ease my pain but to make my parents not feel sorry about my condition. I took doctor’s advice and practiced Yoga and found out that dance brought me peace of mind. I took homeopathy medicines and my migraine is now fairly under control. In the last few years I figured out the most important thing for me to stop worrying, the “secured” feeling which I got when I hugged my Dad. So, even today whenever I am down just few words from him are enough to lift my spirits. It’s not that he solves the problem, but somehow, I find the strength to fight! Even now my habit of worrying has not gone completely but I have learnt to keep it under check. I still worry about my mom’s health, my sister’s career but in a healthy way to solve their problems and not aggravate them through my constant nagging. Now that I have finished, the first thing I will do to ease my worrying is call up my dad and ask him about my mom’s health. I have come a long way but still have a few miles to cover…

Dear Ma’am I have been able to relate with your thoughts and feel that worrying has become so integral to me that I should worry about myself now. From the day I started thinking I feel that I started worrying first and then rest thoughts came in. I have worried about everything that one could possibly worry for. So trivial have been my worries that when I think of them today I laugh at my younger self but at that time these worries were too big. My mom as per her daily routine used to come back by 3.30 pm from school. For every second that ticked on the clock post 3.30 my worries grew. I thought of all scenarios that must have caused her to come late and in each scenario I used to worry. Not that I could have done anything but still I worried. So was my worrying justified? I feel that if I start to worry about someone I care for them and have a lot of love for them, hence I worry that if anything ill happens what would I do? Another aspect is the guilt that comes if anything bad happens because you feel that you could have done something to avoid it. This again adds to the worry I worry in layers. The first layer is just a small thought that comes into my mind regarding their well-being. Then as the layers open up the worst case scenarios come up in my mind and then I start worrying more and more. I feel that this worry has also kept me close to the people whom I love. Due to this constant worry I keep in touch with them and ensure that they are doing okay. This reduces my worries regarding them and then I can focus on other things to worry. As ma’am you mentioned, these small worries keep the larger worries at bay and this I feel is actually good for us. Constantly worrying about the bigger worries will not make us appreciate the smaller things in life. Life is all about living in the moment and enjoying the beauty of it every second. But still I worry about the future that is yet to come. I think that I have been tuned to worry and I shall worry till the end. Still I am happy because these worries help me take care of my loved ones and when they are happy I feel happy. So by worrying for others in a way has been providing me happiness.

A very relatable, emotional article ma’am. While reading the article I could relate to so many things. The small points mentioned in the article regarding worries took me into my past and experience the worries I have had and those I have currently. I am aware that you have far more experienced to comment on such worries, but surprisingly there are few intersections. I am 25, and if someone cares to peek into my mind, he would find a plethora of worries, tensions, concerns etc. I would like to relate to the worries that I used to have when I was at home till standard 12th. Till that time, honestly, I wasn’t worried about myself or my career, probably because of the age and comfortable environment that I was staying. As you pointed out worries of pets, clothes etc, it reminds me that while I was in class 12th, every night it was my responsibility to put lock on the doors and what I would do is to put the lock and then for at least 10-15 second would shake the lock and check if it is getting opened. I used to feel strange anxiety that the lock shouldn’t remain opened. I also used to be very sincere, play by rules and polite student in my school, although I wasn’t the same in my friend circle. I was worried that my actions would cause me problem in school and at home. I am not saying that I shouldn’t be sincere and polite, but I feel somewhere I was not being true myself. Even during my college, I used to get worried about small things educations wise and never really worried on life issues. I It was during my work for 2 years at Bangalore, when I started earning, I started having these feelings of “What will I do without my parents”. Probably, staying alone and getting hard earned money, getting a call every night about what I ate, what I am doing, asking small things strengthened my worries. Now that I am here at SPJIMR, I am constantly worried about doing well here, consecutively getting well placed, get a house and bring my parents to stay with me. One day, I was watching the movie “baaghban” with my parents, and my dad started teasing and joked that “Will you do like this, we have to go old care”. When he said that, I know he didn’t mean or wish anything like that but it really bothered me that I really need to be appreciable, thankful of parents and whatever happens I am solely responsible for their care. Now, both my parents have health issues, I am worried for them and they keep saying the old cliché things “our days are near”. I have started ignoring it and rather motivate them by saying things like “these things happen at old age”. I am aware that I cannot feel the pain that they are in, but my intentions are to ease them into a situation which is usual, often accepted so that they don’t feel things are changing badly, they don’t worry. I am worried about these things, but I have come to realize that things on which you don’t have control, being worried about it makes your present less fun and fulfilling. We often tend to blackmail our present to ruin our future and being worried all time reduces the fun of that moment, living in that moment.

Thankyou ma’am for writing this blog, I feel a bit at peace to know that there are people, who are like me, who worry too much and to know the reasons for their worries (after reading the blog and the comments). The title of the blog put me in a question – what is the situation where you want the life to become endless. But after reading the blog I understood that you meant we worry about small things so much that it seems till eternity. I have been a kind of person who worries about small things so much that people call me ‘serious’ and ask me if the burden of whole world is on my shoulders. Hence, I could relate to this and the flow and structure of the blog made me understand the intensity of the worries felt by you, how it piled up on you and the truth behind worrying about small things. The teachings of your father, that you have mentioned in the blog, are helpful; it tries to explain the difficult lessons of life in simple terms – Life is mortal and worry only about those things that were not supposed to happen normally. I am a kind of person who derives motivation from my worries but sometimes it puts me in a situation where I am not able to handle the stress. When I was in 10th standard, I was worried about my board exam and I was not able to sleep the whole night before my first exam. That night my parents sat beside me and explained me that not sleeping and thinking about the exam won’t help me and it would degrade my health. But I guess it didn’t help me much as I could not stop worrying about things. As time passed my worries changed to important ones but they were still about the predictable things in life. A small event in my life that doesn’t end up as I had imagined makes me worry more. After reading about the feelings you have for your parents and how you want them to be with you forever, I feel that my worries of failing in exam when I know that I have worked for it; failing to achieve my life dream; are small. I felt that I am young to think about a situation where I will miss my parents, but some recent incidents in my life have made me think on these lines. I came across various incidents faced by my friends, where the healthy members of their family suddenly passed away, which made me afraid and think about the people close to me. I realised that I have absorbed myself so much in my life that I am not able to talk to them. I call them when I am free, ask them about their life and I let them know that they are an important part of life, I love them and miss them. Even after understanding this all, I can’t help myself but worry about minute things just to keep me occupied with them and not think about the actual worries.

Dear Ma’am, this is probably one of the most relatable blogs I have read till now. Worrying has become such an integral part of our lives. Without it as a part of mindset, it seems like there is some kind of a void in our lives. Talking about this instance, when I got over with my Class XII CBSE board exams, I had nothing to do for a few days. I was just idle. This was actually bothering, I was not able to accept that I am not doing anything. Time and again, I used to think that I should start studying again before I realized that it was over. Of course, this is at a very small scale compared to what you have shared but I feel it will convey my idea. What if there are much less worries? What if we see them in a different light? Consider them as not worries but as responsibilities and as a part of life or as work. If we did not have all these “worries”, our life would have been more or less uninteresting. This is one component which is indispensable, we may think that without it, we are better off, but that may not be the case. These “worries” give us some goals in life, small daily routine goals or long term goals. The aim is to play along. We just have to consider them as part of our lives and everything else falls into place. The board exams anecdote helped me realize the same. As you mentioned at the end that worrying does not help, so do not worry about the things you have to do. Of course, one may feel it is easier said than done. How can one not worry about one’s parents or one’s future? How can one not worry about one’s job or one’s exams? Well, there is a fine line between being worried and being considerate/ responsible. The things remain the same, the emotions remain the same, it is the intensity that matters. For example, I should be considerate about I family but only to the point where it does not start affecting me. Because in that case, I would not be able to provide any support to my family. Rather, I may turn out to be another cause of worry for the entire family. It is also about how I perceive these tasks. If I take them to be “worries”, it will have a negative impact on me, both mentally and physically. I may even project a negative image to the people around me. But if I take them as my goals, as my challenges, it may me with a positive outlook to life for each challenge-worry I overcome, I will have a certain sense of achievement. So, yes all of us have worries, some small and others too big to handle, but in my opinion, the biggest way to manage worries is to not consider them as worries.

Dear Ma’am, this is probably one of the most relatable blogs I have read till now. Worrying has become such an integral part of our lives. Without it as a part of mindset, it seems like there is some kind of a void in our lives. Talking about this instance, when I got over with my Class XII CBSE board exams, I had nothing to do for a few days. I was just idle. This was actually bothering, I was not able to accept that I am not doing anything. Time and again, I used to think that I should start studying again before I realized that it was over. Of course, this is at a very small scale compared to what you have shared but I feel it will convey my idea. What if there are much less worries? What if we see them in a different light? Consider them as not worries but as responsibilities and as a part of life or as work. If we did not have all these “worries”, our life would have been more or less uninteresting. This is one component which is indispensable, we may think that without it, we are better off, but that may not be the case. These “worries” give us some goals in life, small daily routine goals or long term goals. The aim is to play along. We just have to consider them as part of our lives and everything else falls into place. The board exams anecdote helped me realize the same. As you mentioned at the end that worrying does not help, so do not worry about the things you have to do. Of course, one may feel it is easier said than done. How can one not worry about one’s parents or one’s future? How can one not worry about one’s job or one’s exams? Well, there is a fine line between being worried and being considerate/ responsible. The things remain the same, the emotions remain the same, it is the intensity that matters. For example, I should be considerate about I family but only to the point where it does not start affecting me. Because in that case, I would not be able to provide any support to my family. Rather, I may turn out to be another cause of worry for the entire family. It is also about how I perceive these tasks. If I take them to be “worries”, it will have a negative impact on me, both mentally and physically. I may even project a negative image to the people around me. But if I take them as my goals, as my challenges, it may me with a positive outlook to life for each challenge-worry I overcome, I will have a certain sense of achievement. So, yes all of us have worries, some small and others too big to handle, but in my opinion, the biggest way to manage worries is to not consider them as worries.

Dear Ma’am I am moved by your article. I could completely relate to it because I am also one such being who worries a lot. Sometimes, I even think that probably I am the only person who worries to such a great extent, but then finding someone similar helps me to worry less about it. The higher order worries that you have written about, they bother me as well. The thoughts about my parents getting old and my grandmother getting even older and not being able to spend enough time with them worry me. Six months back, my mother got promoted to the next level, because of which she had to move to another city, my father is staying in a different city, my brother went abroad for higher studies and I came to Mumbai, this worries me because all my family members are staying at different places and I am not sure when will we all be together. I think we tend to worry about these things because we love and care about people who are close to us. One month back, one of my previous colleagues lost his father, the news struck me so hard that I couldn’t concentrate on my work for some time. When I hear such news, I start relating it to myself and that makes me worry about my own family. But now, I try to look at things from different perspective, though it is not always possible, I try to focus on the point that I cannot control the things around me by worrying about them, so I try to keep these thoughts away and I have made this a norm to talk to my loved ones more often because ultimately, it’s all about our priorities. I understand that there are situations when we have to focus upon certain things in life, but it is the happiness of people around us that keeps us moving ahead. I think worry stems from two main reasons. One is from over-thinking about what had happened in the past, the things which are already over but still have a significant impact on our mind consciously or subconsciously. The second reason is when we keep on thinking about future, playing the possible outcomes in our minds on repeat mode. I know the reasons why I worry, but still can’t change them. I have realized that if we try to do best possible things for others and ourselves at present, it will reduce our worries and the worries of those who care about us as well. Though, it is not possible for me to just completely get rid of my worrying nature, but I am trying my best to live in the present moment, because we can never be sure of what will happen in future!

Thanks you ma’am for sharing this wonderful piece of writing. It was really a trip down my memory lane. My childhood didn’t have an ‘intimidating Massi’. Yet, it was not much different from yours. At the age of about 6, I had seen a pack of dogs barking at a stranger. He was carrying vegetables in a polythene bag. Since then, whenever my parents used to go out for shopping, I was reminded of those barking dogs. Thus, I used to get worried that stray dogs might follow ma or papa. There are numerous examples of such imaginary adversary. And like you beautifully said, “my worry prevents anything from happening and would pat myself on the back!” I eventually found myself telling the very same thing. Mind is indeed a treacherous thing. Each time I used to worry and nothing bad used to happen, my mind started believing that worrying helps in preventing harm. This is unhealthy and a vicious cycle. It encourages one to be worried about anything and everything. And one day ‘IT’ happened. My mother met with a serious burn accident. And I was 850kms away from my family. I had two options at that time. One, to let emotions take control of me and cry my eyes out worrying what has happened and what might happen. Second was to fight my paralyzing emotions and worries. I chose to the latter and become my mother’s strength. She survived the unfortunate incident. It’s been years to that mishap and it has changed me from inside. I do worry, a lot. But now, I have divided worrying into two categories. One is ‘constructive worry’ and the other is ‘destructive worry’. My constructive worry make me take extra precautions and double check everything I do. Also, I now give paramount importance to safety, not just for my family but for society as a whole. I try to find solutions to any possible adversary and share them with my loved ones as precautionary measures. Additionally, I consciously try not to be worried in an unconstructive way. It somewhat works for me. I had never shared these feelings so outspokenly with myself, let alone others. Ma’am I really liked your article because it beautifully depicts our internal conflicts. All of us at some point in our life have felt these conflicts. Often, we are told not to worry and be happy in life. But this has never resonated with me. Worrying is like second nature to me. I can’t just stop worrying about my present and future. Though I am trying to control my productivity from worrying my making it constructive. I acknowledge that some things are outside my control. But, that won’t stop me from worrying about other things. Hence, I feel it is okay to get worried. Be it about family or any other petty things in life. I don’t want to let my worries go because constructive worries helps me keep my life in order.

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