We live in an anxious time in an anxious world. Why do we worry? Because things are so good we can afford to.
Bad things happen, no doubt about it; but bad things are not new to history. What is new are all the things we have that our grandparents could not have imagined in their youth.
Automobiles, radio and penicillin come to mind. So do paved roads, electric lights and indoor bathrooms.
Imagine what we would be complaining about if we didn’t have them. Maybe we would complain less.
Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery was as harrowing as any science-fiction thriller, but Stephen Ambrose makes the case that the most remarkable thing about the Voyage of Discovery was the fact that no one complained.
Surrounded by all manner of threats, working so hard we cannot imagine, exhausting their supplies and experiencing privations, they returned with maps and a new understanding of America’s vast territory.
To complain was to die. To blame someone else for a problem only wasted precious time needed to overcome it.
They didn’t even create a marker along the trail until Captain Clark carved his name on Pompeys Pillar on the return trip, after they dared to imagine they might see St. Louis again.
Today we can do anything. St. Louis to Seattle is four hours, not two years.
There is a downside to so many choices, though. We think we have to do them all. We make bucket lists many lifetimes long and complain when our unrealistic expectations are disappointed.
We are so rich by any standard the world has ever known that we suffer miserably. We want everything and we want it now, in our favorite color.
We have so much stuff (and it’s just stuff), we spend half our lives looking for it and the other half trying to remember what it was we were looking for.
Would someone please be sure they carve on my tombstone, “I know I came in here for something”? Thanks. That’s one more thing off my bucket list.
A friend claims worrying works “really good” because 99 percent of the things he worries about never happen. It has become a recreational activity.
Worry consumes more of our lives than folks used to spend keeping a fire going, before electricity made life so easy.
While the world has changed, the human challenge remains the same. No one can add a single hour to their life by worrying. To worry is to borrow trouble. Why apply for a loan like that?
The week my brother came home from Vietnam, a shower came through. He rushed out onto the stoop of our little house and stood there, taking in the prairie’s washed aroma.
It did not exist for him until he left it far behind. When he came back, he recognized it as a rare treasure.
Today, we are surrounded by beauty that is hard for us to see because we are so familiar with it. We see what isn’t there, and miss miracles staring us in the face.
We can buy lottery tickets in search of treasure we already have, or we can open our hearts to the joys around us.
Which path leads you to happiness? The choice is yours, now and always.
That is a truth that can set us free.
Kelly Addy, a Billings attorney, is also a licensed local pastor at Huntley United Methodist Church.
Pastors, ethicists, educators or others who would like to write a column about faith, ethics or values for the section, should contact: Susan Olp; Billings Gazette; 401 N. Broadway; Billings, MT 59101. Or call her at 657-1281; fax to her attention at 657-1208; or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.