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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TOUCHER

WRITING, An intro

I love to write!  Does that qualify me as a writer?  Technically, when I write a grocery list, I’m writing, ergo, I’m a writer.  But I don’t write epic novels such as The Old Man And The Sea.  That’s best left to ‘real’ writers.

I write because I love to write.  I’m even compelled to write.  But I’m often questioned as to ‘where in the world did that come from?  Honestly, most often I simply don’t know.

Many of my ideas hit me in bed, usually in those twilight minutes between sleep and semi-wakefulness.

I seldom write what I dream.  And I’ve yet to master directing my dreams.  They simply have a life of their own.

I usually write from memories of events and locations, you know, time, people, and places.  But more often than not, these times, people, and places are a strange jumble and mix, throughly stirred by a large ‘what if’ spoon. 

I know, I’m beginning to sound as though I have no idea where my ideas come from.  I don’t.  And that’s the fun part.  I can sit back in total innocence… and write to my heart’s content!

TOUCHER

© 2020  Bill Murphy 

“Good morning everyone!”  It was the cheerful voice of Dr. Celia Burns, Chief Pediatric Resident of St. Clemson’s Hospital.  Across the city, thousands of other workers were greeting one another with typical Friday Morning cheer.  But at St. Clemson’s, TGIF had little meaning.  The hospital was a city which never slept and hadn’t since day one.

The cheerful doctor was striking.  Although in her late forties, she’d easily pass for the early twenties.  The long blonde hair and turned up nose gave her that Doris Day type beauty.   

The doctor made her way into the nursing station, picking up the day’s patient roster along the way.  At the opposite end of the long counter stood Harvey Goodwin, the Speech Therapist who came in three days a week.  She walked up to him, and placing a hand on his arm remarked, “Well look at you Harv! You got a new style haircut.  Looks nice.”  

The touch to the arm was not simply an act of familiarity.  It was a habit.  Celia Burns was a toucher.  All of nurses around the central desk received a light touch, as had elderly Mr. Bowman downstairs, the hospital’s ever present greeter.

“We need to talk Celia,” said Harvey.  The use of her first name was not a lack of respect, nor of misplaced informality.  It was simple friendship.  They’d long since gone beyond the co-worker point, to one of sincere friendship.  Or so she thought.

“OK.  What’s up?  Your place or mine?”

“Funny,” he replied.

“How about lunch, in the cafeteria?” she asked.  “I hear that the Hospital Board is making their quarterly rounds today, which means that I’m expected to follow all the rules, like taking lunch.”

“I see they have grill cheese and tomato soup on the menu today.”

“You know me well,” she replied.

“Good.  Then I’ll see you at twelve.  I’ll have it ready for you, hot and hot coffee too.”

With that, she turned and was off to make her morning rounds.

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The cafeteria’s intent was to divid the seating area between hospital staff and visitors. But in practice, with only one serving line, it had never worked out that way.

He found a table in the back, off to the side and near a window.  The surrounding tables were occupied by visitors, most with noisy children.  So much for the better, he thought.  When he saw her at the doorway searching for him, he quickly got up and took her soup to the microwave for a fast re-heating.  She arrived at the table just as he was returning the now steaming bowl.

“How thoughtful,” she remarked.

“You deserve it,” he replied.

“Now, what’s on your mind?  Just why, pray tell, do we need to talk as you say?”

“Eat up now.  We’ll talk afterwards.  We don’t have a lot of time you know.”

They ate silently.  And as always, the soup and sandwich were wonderful.

When they’d finished their meals, she sat back in her chair, ready to hear the mysterious what and why of her friend’s need to talk.

She reached her hand across the table with the innocent intention of touching his arm, as she had the habit of doing.  This time he surprised her.  Just before her hand touched him, he pulled his arm away.

Their eyes met.  There was question on her face… and shock.  She could not read his.

“What’s going on Harv?  What’s the problem?”

“It’s more of an issue… and issue with me.  I need to get something off my chest, before…” he paused for a long moment then began again, “before it becomes a problem.”

“Let’s have it,” she said, “And shoot straight, please.”

“OK.  Here goes,” he began.  “You’re a toucher.  And that’s Ok.  That’s you.  But that’s not the issue, not really.  The issue’s not with you, but with me.  

“Go on,” she said.

“I’ve known you for, what, almost two years now.  The amazing thing is, from the very first time I met you and you placed that warm hand of yours on my arm as you do… as you to almost everyone, I felt something.  I felt something wonderful, something special, something electric. 

“Wow!” Was all she could mutter.

“It was not like some school-boy who’d just experienced his first kiss… but it was close.  And the scary thing is, it’s happened every time since.  I’m not sayings its love.  It’s not and I know it.  But it’s something, something like it.  Celia, I’d be much more comfortable if it was something more… more physical.  Lust is something more common, more everyday, and perhaps, more controllable.  But this is different.  And it happens with every touch. 

She sat for a long moment, thinking.  But she was speechless.  She had no idea how to respond. 

“Why are you telling me this?” She finally asked.  “Why now?”

“Why? He asked.  “Why not.  I’m most uncomfortable about this.  I don’t want it to happen.  I certainly don’t need it to be happening.   I’m a most happily married man Celia, and I want it to stay that way!  But when that ‘tingle’ begins, I feel guilty… guilty when I shouldn’t be feeling guilt at all.  What I’m saying is, I’m just tired of all this stupid guilt, the needless guilt that I can’t understand.  And I’m tired of being afraid, afraid that I could be lying to myself and to my heart.”

BUZZZZ – BUZZZZ – BUZZZZ – BUZZZZ 

Harvey rolled over and fumbled for the button on the infernal alarm clock.  Finally the deafening noise stopped.  Daylight filtered between the louvers of the venetian blinds, illuminating the bedroom in the soft glow of morning.  He’d had that dream again, the dream he’d begun to call the Touching Dream. 

Polly didn’t stir.  Her auburn hair half covered her beautiful, sleeping face.  Saturday.  Good, it was Saturday, he remembered.  She didn’t have to work on Saturdays.  But this was the second Saturday of the month, and he pulled the morning shift every second and fourth Saturdays of the month.

He showered.  He shaved.  He brushed his teeth and dressed.  Then he made a quick cup of instant coffee, grabbed a pop-tart and his car keys, and was off to the hospital.  It wasn’t a long drive, twenty minutes at most.

He parked and when inside, saying hello to Mr. Bowman as he entered.  After a short elevator ride, and a shorter walk down the corridor, he was at work. 

“Good morning everyone!”  It was the loud and gravely voice of Dr. Celia Burns, Chief Pediatric Resident of St. Clemson’s.  

Here it comes, thought Harvey Godwin.  

Behind her back, everyone called Dr. Celia Burns, ‘Bigfoot Burns.’  The former farm-girl turned pediatrician could most probably lift a horse.  She was huge… in all directions!  About all that she lacked was a complete covering of hair!  Bigfoot Burns was a fitting moniker.

Here it comes! 

“Good morning Harvey,” she bellowed, as she slapped him on the back, almost knocking him across the room.

Nope.  This Celia was nothing like the Celia of his dreams.        

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