The usual advice for us anxious, worry warts is to focus on
the present – to be mindful only of what is going on right now. After all, the
reasoning goes, the past can’t be changed and the future can’t be predicted, so
fretting is pointless.
I was reminded of this advice when driving to work
yesterday. My mind was full of the, now imminent, deadline for moving out of
our house, the fact that we have only a very short term rental property lined
up, the many items on the to-do lists, the setting up of a new mortgage
agreement and lots of other things to do with this most stressful of life
events. Then, once well and truly worked up into a highly anxious state, I was
able to catastrophise (is that a word?) about lots of other unrelated events
and to beat myself up about things left undone or done badly.
I had a word with myself and tried to call up the anti-
anxiety techniques I’ve recently learned to combat these horrid feelings. As I
drove along and did my breathing stuff, some ewes and their lambs appeared around
a bend on the track. This is a common occurrence in the crofting township where
I live. The best tactic is to slow down but keep driving and they will move out
of the way when you get close.
Before I got to them, however I had to cross the metal
cattle grid. It rattles loudly when cars cross. And the noise my car made was
enough to scatter the sheep onto the verges before I got to them.
And the bonus was that my anxieties disappeared off to the
periphery as well – as I focussed on the more immediate clear and present
Being the arty-farty creative type, I felt a metaphor coming
on. In life – as in driving – it’s best to focus on where you are now. Only take
brief glances in the rear view mirror and keeping moving forward. Take most account of what’s in front of and
around you in the immediate vicinity and make calm assessments of what’s
visible in the middle distance. And, yes the bin lorry or a logging rig may be
coming round the next bend on the single track road but you’ll deal with it
like you always do if and when it happens.
And, make no concessions to groundless fears or death-wish
sheep – just drive purposefully over the cattle grid and see them off.
Ah, that’s better – I do enjoy a good metaphor – anti-psychotic