Letting Go Of Worry By Letting In The Light

Leonard Cohen's masterpiece "Anthem" points us toward bells of hope and how to find the light...
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A worried man with a worried mind...

That line opens one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs and it describes me about as well as any line in any song ever written. I think worry sometimes gets a bad rap, though. We mean well when we worry about ourselves and the person we are or about the people we love. Worrying is just one more way to show someone we care, right?

No, I'm not buying it, either. There is a profound difference between and every ounce of energy spent in useless panic saps us of our ability to care, live, love, learn, and laugh but that doesn't stop me and I don't think I'm alone. Some wise words recently shared evoked "Anthem," one of my favorite Leonard Cohen masterpieces, and these are the thoughts it unraveled.

Don't dwell on what has passed away

or what is yet to be

I worry about the man I am, and more often the man I'm not. I worry about the opportunities I missed, and more often all the things I've done. I worry about the choices and mistakes I've made, their consequences, how they've damaged me and those in my path. I worry that I haven't done my best, and more often that I have is this is where it got me. I even manage to find time to worry about the people in my life, the battles they fight, demons they face, and feeling powerless to help. It's exhausting and when I'm done worrying, I worry some more.

It's staggering, the amount of time I spend concocting worst-case scenarios that never materialize and suffer oppressive, needless stress. Then there are the times what I feared is what happened (or worse) and worrying did sod all to prevent it. I freaked out and still have a mess to manage.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in.

There is evil in our world, dear readers, and it happens every day and not just on the global level. We encounter it in our every day lives, in our homes and workplaces. There are insensitive acts and unkind words spoken and yet in the midst of that noise there are bells that can still ring and their echo is the sound of hope. We can wait for a time when they all can but that day will never come so forget perfect. Ring the bells that still can ring; don't wait for perfect and don't wait for someone else to do it.

I want to tell you I have a solution for the troubles of the world and the hurts of the heart, a salve for the pain we're in and immunization against what's to come but the best I've come up with is a countermeasure. It would seem madness to celebrate and embrace our sorrows and mistakes or enjoy the resulting pain but maybe if we change how we look at the sum of it all and where we fixate our eyes, we stop seeing damage and scars and instead see cracks and openings.

It's easy to miss the light when its in abundance -- a topic for another day -- but I cannot deny it has been at its most vibrant and beautiful in some of my darkest hours. It appeared to me in some of the most spectacular ways, from some of the most unexpected places. There's far less need or temptation to fear the dark or focus on the pain when we fix our eyes on the light and it's much more difficult to worry when you're no longer afraid.