I was relaxing and wanted to do something mindless over the holidays. I decided to watch a children’s movie I had never seen called, “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown.” I love this cartoon and the characters in it. They were a large part of my childhood.
Let me digress a little bit and say that I was a former children’s librarian for 10 years. One of my most important tasks as a professional was to select well-written and beautifully illustrated children’s books. I was amazed how the children’s authors managed to teach such great life lessons in their short little picture books which were typically under 500 words. Later, I joined an international group called Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators and discovered how difficult it is to write and illustrate a simple children’s book. Only 2 percent of submitted copies ever get published by major publishing houses. So it would follow that a fun children’s movie would also teach an important lesson.
Charlie Brown is the consummate worrier and frets about everything from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed. Eventually, his worries become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remember when Lucy kept pulling the football away? Incidentally, she is not my favorite character and I always thought she was a bully. But Charlie Brown worried and stewed that she would pull the football away at the last minute and she always did – because he expected it!
In the movie, Charlie Brown was asked what his New Year’s resolution was. With typical candor, he answered that instead of dreading the whole year he was dreading only one day at a time.
Initially I laughed – then I stopped. I am basically a worrier like Charlie Brown. I wait constantly for the other shoe to drop. I recite the Serenity Prayer often. I try to remember that studies show 85 percent of the things we worry about never happen according to Don Joseph Goewey in the Huffington Post. And how much of the other 15 percent can we actually control? Maybe I need to do what Charlie Brown does. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to never worry – I can change it to one day at a time.
Take my cancer journey, for example. I am approaching the average nine years most people with my type of cancer live. I worry about becoming helpless and unable to care for myself. I worry about having to move out of my apartment I love. I think about not being able to drive and take care of myself. And on and on and on.
All of which I have absolutely no control over. So how about if I worry about each day? I can pray to my higher power (we have different names but I will call mine God) to help me through this tough day of chemo and make sure I get to the hospital and back safe and sound. I can ask my God to help me tolerate the pain.
Or I can thank God for a blessed day I am not on chemo. I can ask that I be helped to enjoy the day to the utmost and not worry about the next cycle or what the next set of tests will show. After I am done meditating/praying/worrying or whatever it is I do, it is time for me to go on and take advantage of every minute I am breathing.
Thank you, Charlie Brown, for an important lesson. I resolve to worry about one day at a time. Period. And then seize the rest of this beautiful and amazing day!