Worry about worry – Julian Eldridge


Image by the wonderful Polyp – visit his website here

How do you decide what to worry about? I know it isn’t usually a matter of choice. We deal with what’s current. At any given moment in time, neurology could no doubt wire me up and put a percentage on what’s occupying my psychological front room. The expired MOT, whether the debit card can bear the strain of what’ll need doing, will mothers last minute birthday card get there on time and if it doesn’t how will I re-phrase the annual excuse? Is that niggling pain something more serious than trapped wind.

The queue of minor concerns reorders itself as required. Priorities stratify themselves governed by the Law of Dealing With It. That same law must dictate what room is left for the macro-worries. Healthcare, inequality, terrorism, the environment. It can sometimes feel like these issues, surely of fundamental importance to us all, are just a distraction. They struggle to make the consideration shortlist. But there’s something significant going on here.

Amongst friends and social fellow travellers, I think it’s safe to say, I’m known as an issues man. If your conversational comfort zone is dominated by HBO boxed sets and the merits and demerits of coffee makers then I doubt I’d be your ideal dinner guest.

Even so, I can chat. I’m fairly idle by inclination and that can easily be extended to idle conversation. I’ve long acknowledged that the clever part of talking is the listening. But I’ve an internal debate detonator that’s triggered by phrases such a Game of Thrones and skinny latte. The need to up the subject of interest starts to nag like an insect bite. A look of foreboding will pass across Jaynes face as she realises I’m about to stir something geopolitical into the after dinner expresso and isn’t adverse to deflecting me with a well aimed contradiction.

So the other day when I heard that educators were experimenting with mindfulness sessions for secondary school pupils, something occurred to me. What if we extended the mindfulness curriculum to thinking about the bigger picture.? Would society be noticeably impoverished if we were all taught to allocate headspace (other than at election time) to matters global and unresolved, proportionate to their potential jeopardy.

A friend once described watching current affairs programmes as several orders of interest below watching paint dry. I appreciate you can’t force people to give a damn but how to engender the excitement and the desire for engagement which seem so easily suffocated by the trivial?

To save the world we first need to draw it to the publics attention.

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