I have a tendency to worry. When I’m stressed, I can worry pretty much any time of day, but my brain’s favorite time to worry is in the middle of the night. At 3 a.m., there is no problem that can’t be mulled over, chewed on, and puffed up until it seems like the biggest problem in the world.
Anxiety has been a problem for a lot of people I know lately. First there was the election, which hung over us all, with daily news stories (fake and real) and opinion pieces (anxious and more anxious) and stupid memes (mean and meaner). And now there’s the uncertainty about what this next administration will do.
But at the end of October, I was worrying about something pretty great: a three-week trip to Nepal. And, yeah, I was worrying about it. That’s just a thing my brain does, ok? In the middle of the night before I left, I did one of the things that helps me keep my mind off of things: Drawing. And I went for one of the more challenging subjects, my hand. And then I thought maybe I’d just decorate it with some of my travel-related worries.
Writing down your worries is supposed to be one of those things you do to manage them, but I gave it up decades ago, after I noticed it had a tendency to turn into pages and pages of increasingly catastrophic possible outcomes. That’s not helpful. But when I limited those worries to one drawing on one page of a tiny sketchbook, I think it did help. I went to sleep, anyway.
The trip was, of course, great. Nepal is a stunningly beautiful place with nice people and excellent tea. A lot of my worries did come true, and it was fine. There were mosquitoes. A couple even bit me. But I’d already established that malaria was extremely unlikely, and bug repellent worked wonders. I did get sick, but it was temporary. I probably spent too much time on Facebook, but I also amused and comforted my stressed-out friends back home with lots and lots of pictures of goats.
After I got back, a friend saw the hand and the worries in my sketchbook and made me review them.
So here it is: The post-travel update.
To summarize: It was fine.
Brain, if you wanted to remember this for next time, that would be great. And if you don’t, I understand. I know you’ve got a lot on your mind. But there’s a chance that most of the things you’re worrying about now are going to be fine, too.
Art: Helen Fields