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Too much to worry about

There is so much to worry about these days, but I have decided not to. Worry that is. At least for one hour a day.

A defined hour of every day in which I start with a deep breathing exercise or a little contemplative meditation, after which I focus entirely on thinking about something positive. The topic varies with the day.

Today, for example, I am choosing to focus on the loving relationships I have been fortunate to have in my life. There are so many of them once I let my loosened, worry-free heart lead me. I call up passion-filled romantic trysts and smile to myself in the remembrance. I think about milestone commitments as well as unexpected recent flirtations. I decide to focus on the all-embracing word “love.”

Did you know there are three kinds of love? Eros is desire-filled, sometimes breathless love. There’s a lot of that when we’re young and hopefully some of it as we grow older. Although, the “breathless” part of that definition may require a different kind of execution as one ages.

Philia is affectionate love, as well as friendship and shared good will. Older adults need a lot of that.

Agape refers to the highest form of selfless love. Some authors say it is “total love” one for another and “devours those who experience it.” There are more kinds of love, but I only have an hour.

My mind wanders to recall the words in a letter from the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins sent to his 10-year old daughter. I think he was trying to explain to her the importance of “evidence,” and he used an interesting example. He started with, “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give.”

The “evidence” that somebody loves you is taken from the tidbits of any given day, the revelation that your inside feelings come from the outside things that back-up your experiences — a mother’s touch, a tender look, a returned favor. Love for the ages.

Still breathing deeply and appreciating the fact I was able to remember that passage, I glance up at words on the wall of my home study. There are dozens of grinning family photos surrounding a framed tribute our youngest grandson wrote on his return to school after a second grade full of remote learning. His teacher’s assignment: “Write about something positive — something that is important to you in whatever happens next in your life.”

The teacher’s request merges into the assignment I have given myself to be worry-free for one hour. Eight-year-old Jordan wrote, “WANTED: A good friend. I want a friend who loves football, a friend who is caring for others. I want a friend who is kind.”

He drew two stick figures at the bottom of the page. One is carrying a heart-shaped balloon and saying, “Here you go, no worries.” The other stick figure is crying; there are heart-shaped tears flowing from his eyes, but he also seems to be smiling and is waving, and saying, “Thank you, friend.”

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.