Sunday late afternoon I indulged my whim for painting – a splay of cherry blossoms on little wooden boxes for my three youngest grandchildren. My boxes are not as elaborate or as well done as the beautiful ‘worry box’ my precious friend Doreen painted years ago for my granddaughter Mika, but the mere act of creating felt good.
When Jason and his two little ones moved in with us when Mika was little she was often upset and worried. I would ask – “Is there anything you can do about this?” If there was something that she could do to make it better, we figured out how. If there was nothing she could change, I had her draw (and as she got older, write) her ‘worry’ on a little piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in her worry box.
Once the worry was in the box, she had to leave it there and get on with life. It was no longer hers to carry. She couldn’t do anything about the choices other people made, or what might come tomorrow. But she could let the worry go.
And – if and when – the ‘worry’ resolved, we celebrated.
Mika worried that no one would like her at school. In the box. She worried her heart might run away because it was so sad. In the box. One note, limp from being folded and unfolded so many times, was a drawing of her mom and dad, back together again. It remained at the bottom of the box.
By eight, Mika desperately wanted a puppy but worried her mother wouldn’t let her. When she got one, we took her puppy drawing and burned it on the stone path in the garden, jumping and laughing a happy dance.
When I finally looked up from my box painting, a little misty with memories of Mika (now a vibrant and assured young woman) it was dark. Night tightly woven in threads of white flakes.
I got up and went to the window – parked cars in snow hoodies huddled along sidewalks. Naked tree branches in the park defined form and space in bold strokes of white.
Magical. First snow always takes my breath away.
How did winter sneak up so fast? These last months are as blurred as this snow-braced night.
Maybe we could all use a ‘worry box’.
A lot of people carry a lot of different worries. What’s next? What do the numbers really mean? Can we bounce back? What about my job? The kids are out of school again? Am I okay?
Maybe we need to gently remind ourselves that if these are concerns that we can change, then we need to do it. Right now.
But if they are concerns that we have no power to alter, maybe we need to write out our worries or fears on a piece of paper, put it in a worry box, and get on with life.
We get to choose how we respond, what we hold onto, and what we let go.
As Frankl would say, it is in that moment of choice, that we are truly free.
I send you love,