Social media promotes argument, for sure, but anyone who has been online for a while knows that it also spreads unwanted advice and worry, like one of those anti-biotic resistant diseases that regularly sweeps the earth.
I have known much fear in my life, but worry has always been alien to me, perhaps because I grew up in a traumatized Jewish matriarchy where the worst fears of mothers had often come true. For some, worrying is a neuroses, for others simple common sense.
Sometimes it seems to me that there is no such thing as good news in our world, every event on the earth is a new opportunity to worry. And of course in the media we love to watch, no good news is news at all.
I have been appreciating my muse this week. She has been inspiring and guiding me to write well. I've been getting up at 4 a.m all week to work on my next book, about Gus and the lessons of the farm. I am loving it, I have to say, and so, for once, is my editor.
I've written three strong chapters,and she says they need little or no work. She even used the term "great" a few times. My muse also inspires me not to worry, to be grateful for what I have and to live in the present. She has been around, and gotten me far, and she is a spirit, an angel perhaps, that I listen to closely.
The spiritually enlightened seem almost unanimous about worrying. "There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever," said the Dalai Lama.
Deepak Chopra says the first indication that one is transforming to a higher consciousness is when he or she stops worrying. Small things don't bother us anymore.
I thought of this yesterday when I introduced comments to my blog, and then wrote about the Army Of Good's campaign to buy air conditioners for the residents of the Mansion who do not have air conditioning and need some. I was quite pleased with myself, I've finally identified the residents who need some relief – the sprawling facility is not air-conditioned – and I just ordered the third portable air conditioner from Amazon, two more to go.
I hardly posted this good news before a flood of messages came in via e-mail and comments on my blog and Facebook. It was all well and good to get some air conditioners, but what about the Mansion's electric bill? People were worried about it, very worried. Should they send money? Should I speak to them?
"I think it's wonderful these folks get air conditioning," posted one reader, " my concern is the Mansions electric bill."
Really, what was wrong with me? I wasn't worried about the Mansion's electric bill at all.
We didn't get to feel good about that for very long, or even for a minute. I completely understand that these are good people trying to do good, but I am repeatedly struck by what a worrying nation we have become.
Good news doesn't get to breath for a second before we start thinking about all the bad things that could happen, we seem desperate for things to worry about.
So what are we worried about? That the Mansion can't afford five air conditioners in a three-story facility possessing the newest wiring and plentiful power, as required by law for Assisted Care facilities? That I wouldn't know to check on that?
Someone else messaged me because she was worried about leaky windows in the Mansion in the winter. I suggested we deal with the summer first.
I didn't pay much attention until I got the 15th or 20th message and realized how strange a person I am. Is that what it means to have a higher consciousness? To be a freak?
I have discussed every room with every staff member of the Mansion, of course, and their maintenance staff, and they delighted and grateful that the Army Of Good is on the march to make the residents feel comfortable.
When all is said and done, I will have purchased five portable air conditioners, and everyone there who needs one will have one.
So I think often about boundaries, and how this new technology erodes them. Good news and deeds, like new ideas, don't get a chance to breathe before they are smothered to death by argument or worry. Something good is merely another vehicle to worry or sound an alarm.
I understand that this is my problem, not necessarily anyone else's, but I do think about the idea that worry accomplishes nothing, and it drains the joy out of life. People are terrified to put photos online of their dogs riding in cars because there will be avalanche of worry about them boiling to death in cars. People dread writing about their puppies because legions of worriers tell them how likely they are to wither and die.
There is much to worry about in our world, and much to rejoice over and the time and energy we spend on one or another is a profound and critical choice in life. I wish to be light-hearted when appropriate and full of joy. Buying air conditioners for these good and sometimes sweltering people makes me happy and grateful to be alive. I will not worry about it.
I choose to be proud that these vulnerable people will be comfortable soon because many of you cared enough to help them out. The Mansion can worry about its own electric bill, if they have any trouble, they will let me know.