A few years ago the Governor of California announced that he was going to cut state workers’ wages to the federal minimum. Whoa, Whammy and What?!? My friend, Sandi, was one of those people at the potentially piercing end of this skewer—with not only herself, but a family to help support. Instantly, her co-workers railed against the State of Unfair Affairs--obsessed with protest and fear--yet they had enough wits about them to notice that Sandi didn’t seem to be disturbed.

“Aren’t you upset?” they queried.
“No. It hasn’t happened yet.”
“But it’s going to! Aren’t you afraid?”
“No. He said the same thing last year and it didn’t happen.”
“But he’s serious this time!”
“I’m sure he was serious last time too, but it didn’t happen.”
“But how can you be so calm?”
“Why waste energy on something that hasn’t happened?”

In this particular case, the Governor hit a solid wall called “The State Controller” who refused to comply. The matter sauntered off to court and has for now become a non-issue.

I often think of Sandi's reply when I’m tempted to worry, obsess, or mindfully regress about things that haven’t happened yet. Why miss what IS happening? I ask myself. Because I’ve noticed that when I place my attention on something that isn’t happening, I automatically take it off what is. I’m trading the moment I have for one I hope will never come--and creating tension and stress in the process. So I’m wondering if it’s possible to become our own governors when it comes to a potential threat. Do we have the authority to decree, “Something that hasn’t happened yet has no power over me!” And in fact, how can it have any power other than what our mentally invented futures feed it?

One late night many years ago, I got a call from my daughter-in-law telling me that my grandson was showing signs of the flu that had recently taken the lives of some young children. Though I trusted my children’s diligence, I hung up feeling panic-stricken, telling myself I wouldn’t be able to sleep. And then I realized that nothing bad had actually happened. Perhaps the origin of angst was my mind, revving up the fear engine. I then noticed that my stomach—the place that typically registers true alarm--was perfectly calm. I sided with my gut, turned over, and slept soundly all night. By the next day, baby was fine.

Of course, sometimes IT does happen. The pay cut goes sailing through, the funny sound in the car turns out not to be funny, and the lab results are less than relieving. Even so, anticipatory worry with its string of “what ifs” and attending mindmares, only serves to weaken our reserves for the challenge at hand should it, in fact, arise. So why not live life in the meantime, present to the one moment we have for sure: this one.

What in your life "hasn't happened yet"? How are you handling it?

Together on the Evolving Journey,