The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins Wednesday evening. It’s similar to the secular new year in that Jews are supposed to think about how we can be better people. A very good exercise. My resolutions are usually the same, ie: try to have more patience with the kids, try to curse less, and cook more. As with most resolutions, I’ve failed miserably in the past, but thankfully I’ve been given another year to try again.
One resolution which I made years ago, I’ve kept—I honestly do “worry less.” It’s a daily struggle (I am Jewish after all), but worry is no longer a big hairy monkey on my back.
Here’s how my worry-less journey began: One Rosh Hashanah I had house guests, and the woman I was hosting offered to make homemade matzoh ball soup. She went to the store to buy ingredients and called me from there with a million questions. I was on another errand but tried to answer them. “Do you have chicken stock?” Yes. “Do you have kosher salt?” Yes. “Should I buy carrots?” No. “Will the kids eat soup?” I don’t know.
This went on and on; we’d hang up and she’d call back with more questions until finally this one came: “How big is your pot? I’m worried the chicken won’t fit in your pot.”
Here was my response, which effectively shut her up and inadvertently gave me the tool I needed to stop my worrying: “If my pot is too small, then we won’t have chicken soup.”
Verbalizing the worst thing that could happen with the soup liberated us both from worrying about it.
This has been my strategy ever since for things I worry about. If my son misses football practice, or my daughter has the wrong ballet shoes, or a guest for my show doesn’t pick up their phone for our interview… It won’t be my personal apocalypse. We just wont have chicken soup.
Worry is a useless emotion. Will worry solve the situation in Israel? Will worry cure Alzheimer’s? Will worry put more money in my bank account? Negotiation, research, and work may resolve those problems, but worrying about them never will.
Every new year, religious and secular, I resolve to worry less, and I’m making good progress. I’m not perfect at it, but my effort has freed my mind to try to have more patience with the kids, try to curse less, and cook more. I’m writing this to you as my meatballs are cooking for the holiday, and so far, the spell check hasn’t detected any expletives. I wish you a happy, healthy, sweet, worry-less New Year. May your pot always be big enough for the chicken, and may your soup always be delicious!