Concern or Worry


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Image Description: A white question mark, written in chalk, on a blackboard.

These days, I find myself thinking about this often:

Concern and worry are not quite the same. They’re different experiences, I think.

When we’re concerned about something, we take it seriously. And this feels proactive: We think ahead. We consider consequences. We galvanize our strength, our inner resources, and our community resources.

But…

When we’re worried about something, we just spin around our own anxiety. It can feel like a whirlwind.

It’s not easy, and sometimes, not possible to just snap our fingers and exit worry. Anxiety is very physical, and when it takes hold, we’re really in it. This deserves compassion and never shame or criticism.

I wonder, if we can practice moving our worry energy into concern energy, might we inhabit a different stance? Then we can be in a different relationship with what we face or fear.

Renee Roederer

Timefulness

A Clock. Public domain image.

Some relationships and some communities seem to feel timeless.

Some friendships can pick right back up, even if you haven’t spoken in a long time. Or you can recall memories so vividly that they begin to feel present to you, even if they happened a long time ago. Some people are just with you in a sense. You can bring their presence to you with a thought or a feeling. And some communities seem to be accompanying you in multiple chapters of your life even if they were primarily a part of one.

Maybe timeless isn’t the right word. Maybe this is timefulness.

Renee Roederer

Donezo Day

Calendar and Events | Stonegate Elementary
Numbers on a calendar. Public domain.

Ah, it’s May 3rd — My Donezo Day!

Before I go any further, it’s important to say that this pandemic is far from over. That’s true in our country, and at this moment, it’s very true within my state. In particular, India is in serious crisis at the moment. So we’ll need to keep taking precautions in a variety of ways based on where we are within the vaccination process and based on the best scientific recommendations before us. My heart goes out to people who are suffering with COVID.

I want to honor this. I also recognize there’s a certain level of privilege in having access to vaccines. That’s so important to say.

For the purpose of this post, ever since I had my first vaccination on March 22, I’ve been calling May 3 my “Donezo Day.” It’s the arrival point two weeks after my second vaccination. According to the CDC, I am fully vaccinated as of today.

The pandemic isn’t done, and I’ll continue to wear my mask in public spaces. But a particular chapter is done for me as of today. And with so much gratitude, I am looking forward to doing some of the things I haven’t done in a long time.

Here’s a small one, and yet one I am thrilled about: I’m going back to Trader Joe’s today for the first time in more than a year. And big ones are coming up too — I can’t wait to spend more time with also-vaccianted-loved-ones.

This previous chapter is DONEZO.

Renee Roederer

Unless you have health conditions that cause serious reactions to them, please get vaccinated, friends. Most of all, this helps us collectively. This is how we defeat this coronavirus.

When Voyager 1 Turned Around

voyager1
Voyager 1 pale blue dot. Image credit: NASA/JPL

When we connect with a sense of Beyond — when we zoom out to see a larger field of view — we see ourselves in a different light. We encounter our finitude, our fragility, and our power.

In 1990, the space probe and explorer Voyager 1 was 13 years old and 3.7 billion miles away from the earth. On February 14 of that year, scientists commanded the probe to turn around and take a photo of the earth. That command resulted in this image. Astronomer Carl Sagan called it “the pale blue dot.”

He added poetic meaning and power when he added convicting words to this image. He said,

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

-Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994.

Our finitude.
Our fragility.
Our power.

The Courage to Really Do It

Balance Risk Courage Risky High Spirits Rock Sky – Clean Public Domain
Image Description: A person in silhouette jumps between two stacks of rocks. A blue, cloudy sky is in the background.

Do you know this saying?

If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. 

Don’t get me wrong. I support hard work and excellence and all of that, but ultimately, I appreciate what G.K. Chesterton has to say about this. He was known for turning common sayings on their head in order to gain greater meaning from them. He started to say this instead:

If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

That’s better. It may sound strange to our ears, but it’s more life-giving. Because if we think about it, it brings home this truth: If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing. Period. No matter the result.

– This saying bolsters people who are willing to try something innovative, even as they recognize the possibility for failure. If it turns out badly, it may be the necessary catalyst for learning. The process or the failure itself may yield insights and discoveries toward the next idea, one that would have never been conceptualized beforehand.

– This saying bolsters people who are pursuing a calling, even as they reckon with the reality that some will place roadblocks in their path. The journey toward any kind of calling takes twists and bends. At times, the these turns are remarkably unfair. At times, they are thoroughly unjust. I do not make light of this. They are harmful — not good. But the calling can emerge in spite of them.

– This saying bolsters people who are willing to tell the truth, even as they recognize it marks them for risk. Whistleblowers come to mind, in particular. There are times when we honestly cannot afford such risks. But when we can, there is life and vitality in speaking truth to power. Even if we do not shift the power entirely, those words of truth are out there in the world. They keep working. I trust that they take on a life of their own, especially as they inspire more people to come forward and speak truthfully.

It’s messy.

But if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

– Renee Roederer

Know Anyone Who Would Enjoy Reading This Blog?

PUBLIC DOMAIN COFFEE, Portland - Restaurant Reviews, Photos & Phone Number  - Tripadvisor
Two coffees with foam shaped like hearts. Public domain image.

Here we are at the end of the April, heading into May.

At the end of the month, I always like to say thank you for following here at Smuggling Grace. I appreciate you taking the time to connect here, and as always, thanks for engaging too. I enjoy reading and hearing your comments virtually on the platform, in emails, or during real time conversation. Thank you!

And I’m always happy to expand the audience as well. Do you know anyone who might enjoy connecting with this blog? If so, feel free to pass it along. The more the merrier!

And I wish you a wonderful spring! Wherever you are, I hope you’re starting to have some lovely weather.

Thanks for engaging in community with me!

Renee Roederer

Also at the end of the month, I always extend an invitation to support this blog on Patreon. Or! You can tip me with a coffee! Both of these are always great gifts, but are never expected. I appreciate you being here.

A Litany: Who Loves You?

hands
Image description: Two hands come cupped together to make the shape of a heart. Sunlight is shining through.

One of my best friends has a nightly ritual with both of her daughters. They are five and three, both completely precious. Every night, after reading to them, my friend says these final words before they go to sleep:

“Who loves you?”

Then both girls go through this litany of naming who loves them (sometimes with help) — parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends. Sometimes the stuffed animals get named too.

I think this is a very dear practice. It’s wonderful that these girls rehearse love right at the end of the day before they fall into sleep.

Perhaps we’ve never taken a moment to go through a list of people in our minds like this, but maybe that would actually be a good idea today. We never outgrow the need for this kind of awareness, a calling to mind of those who love us.

So I’ll ask us all the same question today:

Who loves you?

Renee Roederer

Get Curious

idea
Image Description: A thought bubble with a lightbulb inside. Public domain image.

A Stress Relief/Trauma Life Hack*:

Get curious.

Ask yourself a new question. Go down a rabbit trail of learning. Explore something novel. Get to know someone. Delight in something unknown. Try something new.

Every time we explore new things, we are creating new chemical reactions in our brains. Our neurons fire, and our brains develop new patterns and associations. This is invigorating and stimulating. When we have interest and feel delight, we ease stress.

Curiosity is also a pathway to empathy. It helps us imagine the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others. It also helps us have empathy for ourselves: Why do I think these thoughts, feel these feelings, and do things this way? Both kinds of curiosity are helpful during times of trauma and personal difficulty.

So let’s get curious.

And I’d love to hear from you: What are you learning or exploring these days?

— Renee Roederer

* I want to thank Shannon Dingle for a series of tweets she did in which she gave some valuable ‘trauma life hacks.’ I’m borrowing her phrase, so I want to give a nod to her work and her Twitter handle: @ShannonDingle