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Putting Worry in its Place

September 26, 2011

Being stuck in traffic on a Seattle freeway is not unusual. However, this particular back up had an ironic reason. As I was south bound on I-5 on a Saturday morning, the brake lights ahead of me began to appear around the ship canal bridge. A very predictable occurrence except when traffic is as light as it was this day.

 As I rounded the corner and emerged from under the overpass, the cause was readily evident; the electronic DOT sign had a lengthy (and obviously important) message for drivers. The sign was announcing that the 520 bridge would be closed NEXT weekend – seven days from now. In an attempt to prevent next week’s traffic from experiencing undue congestion, the sign was causing this week’s travelers undue heart burn.

In life, we often look down the road and anticipate problems. We have a project, a paper, an interview, or a meeting that seems like it has so much riding on it. We become so focused on the future that we lose our ability to function effectively in the present. Which in turn causes us to function less effectively in the future. Which to us validates the anxiety we were experiencing as we anticipated the dreaded event. Maybe if we heed the advice to not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow wouldn’t have as many worries.

I’m not suggesting we should never plan for tomorrow. I’m sure the DOT was trying to plan carefully to minimize any inconvenience for drivers. The sign just reminds me that we need to make sure our planning is relieving the stress, not creating it.

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