CONCERN and WORRY

So what, if any, is the difference?

What, me worry?

© 2021 Bill Murphy

Concern, the definition

That which affects one’s welfare or happiness. A matter of interest to someone. The adposition before the matter of interest is usually over, about or for.

(Adposition – the meaning of that complicated word is:  An element that combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding content.  The key words here are; phrase, interpreted, and content.

Similar words for concern are: Deal with, cover, discuss, examine, to address, study, look into, to inquire about, regard.  Basically, to be concerned about something means to take it into consideration. 

Worry, the definition

Worry is having a strong feeling of anxiety.  To be troubled, to give way to mental anxiety.  

Similar words for worry are: Anxiety, apprehension, fear, uneasiness, dread, misgiving, apprehensiveness, uncertainty, having the willies.

A wise teacher once told me, ‘It is what it is.’  then they explained that remark my saying, ‘It’s not necessarily what you think it is.’  This little truism is why the stage magician can so easily trick us.

When we consider the meanings of these two words, concern and worry, we see that concern pertains to things and events which we have a distinct control over… that is: We the ability and opportunity to altar the perceived outcome.  However, worry is a mental activity involving things and events over which we have no control, neither do we have the opportunity nor the ability to change them.  Worry is a hopeless and helpless state of mind.  Basically worry is futile!

If you are on a roller-coaster, and you discover that this in NOT fun, you decide that YOU WANT OFF…now!  If the ride has an emergency button, you hit it, and get off.  That’s exercising your CONCERN, and doing something about it.  However, if you decide to suck it up and RIDE… and suddenly, at the top of the tallest peak, the car jumps the tracks… and now your hurtling toward the ground!  This is the time to WORRY!  You’ll soon crash into the ground and you’re helpless to do one thing about it!

There are numerous words in the English language which we incorrectly believe to be of similar in meaning.  Repeat a falsehood often enough and it begins to sound like truth.  Movies and TV have told us for years that sex outside of marriage (fornication) is simply ‘making love.’  There’s a lot of sex in the world today that’s far, far removed from anything remotely like love.

That said, I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier.’  

Am I concerned about some things that appear not to concern others? Yes.

I’m sure that you’re heard the expression, ‘There goes an accident about to happen.’  We use this to express our opinion that we perceive that all of the elements are in place for an accident to happen.  Notice the use of the words opinion and  perceive.  

The same holds true for the word worry.  I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier’ because I’m perceived to be worrying, therefore, others people’s opinion is that I ‘surely must be’ worrying.  But I’m not.  I’m concerned

It’s been said that one of the ‘biggest words’ in the English language is ‘IF’.  

Think of ‘if’ as a fork in the road… where we have a choice of which path to take.  After we’ve taken the wrong path, then we recognize our error and we wish that we’d taken the other path… we look back and reflect.  But now it’s too late to WORRY about it.  We’ve already where we don’t want to be!

But back at that fork in the road, when we pause and consider carefully the consequences of possibly making the wrong decision, that’s concern.  That’s our opportunity to do something about our decision, to weigh our options, to gather the facts.  

I also ‘guilty’ of telling a lot of stories from my past.  I memory banks of filled with unique and unusual stories to tell.

I’m reminded of a family vacation event which happen in the early 1950s.  We were in Colorado at the time, in an arid, mountainous, ‘bad-lands’ region.  The purpose was to see an old abandoned gold mining town.

Dad spotted a tour-guide JEEP, with driver-guide and 3 or 4 sight-seers.  A sign on the side of the jeep proclaimed that it took visitors up to the actual mine.  “Let’s follow them!” Said Dad.  And we did.  We followed them UP THE MOUNTAIN.

I was of course, excited.  Mom and my sister were worried.  It was NOT a paved road up the mountain, and it was NOT wide.  It proved to be a winding, one-jeep wide road…with no guard rails.  Occasionally, the jeep ahead would stop and the folks would turn and shake their heads in disbelief.  We continued to follow.

Being a back seat passenger, and an obedient son, there was not much I could do about my darkening situation.  My excitement had long sense morphed into what I perceived to be CONCERN and straight thru into full-blown WORRY.  In a few more difficult yards, Dad also had begun to be genuinely concerned!

Around the next tight little bend in the road, we came upon a narrow place that was less narrow than we’d seen in quite a while.  ‘Wide place’ was NOT a suitable definition.  But to Dad, he saw it as a glimmer of hope in desperate times.  

Backing down the mountain was NOT an option… that would be an open invitation to disaster.  Somehow he had to get the car headed in the other direction.  It was no simple task, and not one for the faint hearted.  But somehow, inch by precarious inch, he maneuvered that big ole Chrysler back and forth, front bumper touching solid rock walls, and rear tires coming to with a quarter of an inch to a sheer drop-off.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Ahead the jeep came to a stop.  Vacationeers had their cameras out.  And when Dad made that last maneuver, and we could finally retrace our path down the mountain… everyone in the jeep let out a cheer!  We in the Chrysler let out an equally loud sigh of relief.

I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the definitions of CONCERN and WORRY, and how they affected all of us involved that day, than this exciting up and down the mountain adventure!   

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A Simple Matter of Perspective

Every so often we encounter someone who’s attitude and outlook is, let’s say,‘out of sorts.’  They’re everything but cheerful, friendly, and hospitable.  OK… they’re cranky, cross, and crabby… even grouchy, irritable, testy, and surly.  Obviously they have a burr under their saddle. 

It’s so easy to pont fingers, to shout ‘button up buttercup,’ and to challenge them for acting out and acting up like they are.  In times like that, we’re glad that we’re not like them!

But we are.

As children of God, most of the time we’re hard-headed children.  And as children of God, we try to think of ourselves as bright, beautiful, and as perfect as is our Heavenly Father.  But we’re not.

Sometimes, God allows some sweet soul to hear the trigger click, and they ‘go off’ with a crabby ‘bang’ that wounds us.  But… in God’s big picture (in which He knows all and everything) He’s simply using ‘crabby’ as a temporary mirror, held up before us, so that we can see a clear reflection of ourselves!

In John 8:7 Jesus said…

‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone’

Oops!  Do I see myself in the mirror?  Yes, I believe I do.  Sorry Lord. 

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(NOT) On The Road Again

Bill Murphy ©2021

The song ‘On The Road Again’ was made famous by Willie Nelson, or perhaps it was the other way around.  It’s definitely NOT a song related to my mother!  My mom was more closely paired to the movie, ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’

Mom was born February 25, 1915 in rural Mississippi, the daughter of a railroad engineer.  Dad was born July 6, 1910, in Carthage, Mississippi, the son of a self-sufficient farmer.  They met and fell in love in Carthage in the early 1930s, where both lived.  Dad was twenty-two when they married, and she was seventeen.  

Through thick and thin, World War Two, the threat of instant atomic annihilation… and me… they were steadfast friends, lovers, and husband and wife for the remainder of their long and very happy lives.

Yet, both were strong-willed, unique individuals.  Only their love for one another was stronger – thank God!

When they married, Dad was working for a small up-start grocery firm.  He began as a lowly stock-boy, and had worked his way up to manager of one of the company’s stores in Jackson, Mississippi by the time they married.  They rented an apartment only yards from the store, so Dad simply walked to work.  Dad’s work-ethic reasoning was: why should his vehicle take up a potential customer’s spot?

Dad taught Mom to drive; however, he asked her NOT to drive the car until she had her license.  I used the words ‘asked Mom’ because ‘told Mom’ sounds too harsh and demanding.  In today’s world, that’s not politically correct.  But this was in the 1930s, where ‘told’ would be both politically acceptable and strongly reasonable.  My law-abiding, plan-ahead, cover-all-the-bases-father reasoned that 1) Driving without a license was against the law, 2) IF she had an accident, she’d probably NOT be covered on the auto’s insurance, and 3) RESPONSIBLE people don’t take UNNECESSARY chances.  No doubt, he used the word ‘told.’

Girls will be girls they say.  And one of Mom’s lady-friends dropped by to invite her to go along with her into town.  They’d take the bus.  Instead, they took the car!  Mom drove.  She was on the road again when she shouldn’t outta be.  Wouldn’t you know it?  This would be the one day that Dad inexplicably came home in the middle of the day.  Oops!

This was a ‘big deal’ to Dad.  To him, it crossed more that one line.  Mom didn’t agree with what she saw as his un-reasonable attitude.  The embers of anger were  quickly fed by the wind of words.  And Mom, in her unique and amazing way, drew a line in the sand.  I don’t know the exact words she used, but she basically stated:  “If that’s the way you feel, OK.  That settles it.  Since you’re so firm that I was oh so wrong, I promise you here and now, that it will NEVER happen again.  And it will never happen again, because it CAN’T happen again… because I’m NEVER, EVER going to drive again!  So there!”

And she didn’t!

I can remember, when I was still riding a tricycle, and my little sister was a baby in arms and trips to the pediatrician were often for both of us… that Dad would beg and plead with Mom to please, please, PLEASE get your drivers license… DRIVE!  He actually promised her that he’d buy her any car she wanted!  But it was to no avail.  Mom’s clandestine shopping trip downtown was the last time she sat behind the wheel of an automobile!  Ever!!!

I’ve always believed that my family was one-of-a-kind.  And if this doesn’t prove it, nothing does.  But what is so amazing is that this not so tiny ‘wound’ in their relationship healed so utterly and completely.  It really left no scars!  By the time I was was learning to drive, it was simply an accepted fact that Mrs. Murphy did not drive.  Didn’t want to.  She just wasn’t going to do it.  Period.  And friends and family alike accepted this fact as ‘gospel truth.’

I just thought of someone else with an anti-driving mentality… Sheldon Cooper!