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worry stone

My dad and I collect worry stones on the beach. We always have. A worry stone is an ocean-smoothed stone with a thumb-sized surface that worries can be rubbed off on. It lives in your pocket and can be reached for when worry arises. I can only imagine how many worry stones it would take to fill the canyon worrying has carved in me, although Max just got one that is doing the trick for him.

I worry most about wasting time, that the canyon in me, like a fine vintage regret or the scar from a bad decision, is evidence of wasted time. I think I particularly worry about wasting time now that everything - global warming, exile, terrorism, greed, suffering, inequality - feels untenable. Even when I manage to look to the helpers as Anne Lamott says, I get lost in how over-worked, under-funded, over-looked and misunderstood the helpers are and start to worry again.

It's funny, I'd never look at the Grand Canyon - which I did for the first and only time two years ago with my friend Rachel on a cross-country trip - and think, it's a pity the water did that to that rock. The work of the Colorado River, so staggeringly erosive, is GRAND. The divide is what asks for our reverence.

There was a sunset laid out before us on the way to the theatre above 10 West Thursday night; the pink, purple, orange masterpiece painted from pollution in the sky. You don't get that kind of sunset without smog.

The first time my dad handed me a worry stone and told me what it was for I felt utterly surprised. How does my dad know I'm worried? I was too young to say I'm worried about anything but not too young to understand relief from it. And that my dad, in giving me a stone, offered me understanding first and then a symbol of understanding's furtherance is perhaps a way to bridge, not fix, the chasm.

What actually helps when the worry and the waste threaten to enfeeble us? Barbara sent Max a worry stone in the mail. It works because her understanding worked: we all have canyons in us carved by worry and hopefully, here is some relief.

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