Most things don’t happen. Compared to how many things don’t happen, only a few things do happen. But who worries about things that never happened? Most people.
The one that got away is a one that you got that never happened. The misfortune that came your way is a misfortune missed that never happened. We make our superstitions about how to cause or prevent an event in the future (and our best-evidence based plans) but when we worry about things that never happened, we burn down the forest in search of firewood. We should keep an eye open for patterns, but when things just happen they just happen. Do not dwell on the past. Knowing why things happen will not change the past, only our perspective on the past. And you can change that perspective without knowing why. We worry about what never happened to distract us from what is happening. That’s what the worry is for, of course. It has its place. Just don’t confuse one for the other.
Most living humans will never love you or hate you, but it seems mission critical that a few do. I encourage the egoistic aggrandizement of thinking most people need to have an opinion about you, but if you make your happiness and fear conditional on the opinion of others you are far from free. The thoughts and feelings of other people do have a physical existence within their brains, but never outside it. Actions alone can aid or aggravate. Opinions are a thing that didn’t happen and we can stop worrying about them.
All those regrets about things you did not do? You did not do them, so stop worrying. Their status of having not been done is not changed by your worry. Use that effort to do something now instead. At the minimum keep it to yourself about missed opportunities, nostalgia and regret. Yeah yeah, you could have had kids (or not), you could have attended to your health (or not), but that’s not what happened. Do not complain about things that did not happen. Nobody, including you, wants to hear it.
Getting worked up about ideas about ideas (about ideas about actions) rather than actions is emblematic of what people mean when they say the word “politics” with a sneer. The left, the right and all points in between have posts aplenty and tons of tweets decrying media portrayals of (insert minority of choice here). Too much this, not enough that, just right but for the wrong reasons, pro and anti and post and rad. If role models are so important then how can change happen at all? Innovators saw no one like them but innovate they did. And those who do have the positive role models but do not advance, how to explain that? Many millions mull over magazines and movies yet never mature despite all the motivation. Do not assume a stooped posture under the weight of a lack of role models – role models that never happened. Instead, stand tall and walk confidently forward.
Islam, and Christianity, and Judaism, and all the other mean-spirited ghost stories told by illiterate goat herders from thousands of years ago… didn’t happen. There is no God, no sin or sanctity. You are now free to act accordingly, having ceased to worry about a swamp-minded fable that never happened. Now that you’re no longer worrying about the afterlife, you can stop worrying about what happens after life. It’s called death and there’s nothing to worry about. When you’re gone you’re not around to be glad, anxious or even notice that you’re gone. That’s why they call it being gone. Do not worry about death, it will happen when and as it does. And death is one more thing that didn’t happened (to you… yet… ), so twice over do not worry.
Threats! Look out! A terrible thing might happen and you’re being told about it. You’re going to be in big trouble. You’re going to get beat up, fired, have your rent raised, get sick, be laughed at. That other human used words to describe the potential outcome of activities yet to be undertaken, and words are magically true. Take note of well-wishers, arm accordingly against antagonists, then for heaven’s sake refrain from worry. Words don’t matter, only deeds. And a deed not done is only a dilemma to a dunce.
It has never happened that shimmering celebrities, the politically powerful and the worldly wealthy worry about you. Worry about them is wasted worry.
I read an opinion that was not my own, and thought I had an obligation to respond. I read a falsehood that was presented as truth, and I thought I had an obligation to respond. I read a question that was not directed at me, and I thought I had an obligation to respond. That obligation to respond is a confusions of my own self-importance with the opinions, lies and questions of others. That obligation to respond is a thing that doesn’t exist, it’s something that never happened.
Actions do happen. People do stuff. I’m a people, so I should know. But collective guilt or collective pride is not something I have much time for. My ancestors fought to free slaves. Some of my ancestors, that is. Others fought to keep slaves. Go back far enough and some of my ancestors probably were slaves. I for one have never owned a slave. I’m against slavery without any guilt or pride about what my ancestors did. Collective guilt or pride is against the individual, and I am an individual first and last. The collective is a thing that never happened.
All rather abstract, I know. Let me convey some a case study, involving my friends H and F. F bought a book (and did not read it). H saw the book at F’s house (but did not buy or read it). H got mad at me for F buying a book (but not reading it) because of my “influence” over F. I, meanwhile, had not bought or read the book nor influenced F nor H to get mad about it. F, meanwhile, no longer speaks to me because I didn’t speak to a friend of his once or twice. I didn’t say anything (nor shun) and that non-deed was my undoing. And this other friend, M, told me bad, bad things were going to happen to me because of words and deeds I never said or did. To clarify, none of this is the case study I speak of. The case study of worrying about something that didn’t happen is my own – that I miss my friends who are not my friends any more. Their friendship is now something that is not happening. I should not worry about what is not happening.