Anna’s Not Dead

And neither is my computer! Woo-hoo! Isn’t that great? I thought they were definitely both going to die, but then they didn’t. I’m so relieved. Aren’t you?

OK, let’s back up a minute and answer some questions first.

1) Why was my computer going to die? Because I like to stay hydrated that’s why and last week I spilled an entire Nalgene that’s constantly by my side right onto my laptop. It was disastrous and hilarious (in a disastrous sort of way).

2) Who’s Anna? Anna Bates, duh. From Downton Abbey. The fictional lady’s maid with a fantastic love story to Mr. John Bates who wanted ever so dearly to have a baby, suffered terrible miscarriages, and was pregnant again leading up to show’s finale. That Anna Bates.

My wife and I were convinced Anna was going to die in childbirth. We were 100% sure of it. We told ourselves over and over again that this woman whom we had grown to love over years of watching grow and care and love and lose was going to get so close to having everything she ever wanted and then die. And we were going to lose her, too. We told each other in the weeks leading up to the finale, as her pregnancy progressed, “It’s OK. Anna’s going to die, and it’s OK. It’s going to suck, but Anna’s going to die, and we’ll be fine.”

And then? She didn’t! Anna delivered a healthy baby boy, and she and Mr. Bates lived happily ever after.

All of the suffering that T and I had done imagining her demise was for nothing! And we really had suffered. We were in agony over her coming funeral and how sad Mr. Bates would be. But it turned out the complete opposite! What a relief, yes, and also what a waste of our time and energy!

The same thing happened with my computer. I spilled on it. It didn’t turn on. I took it in to the shop. I did all I could, and then I immediately started imagining how much of a pain it was going to be to replace. The days I’d lose to shopping, and shipping, and then setting up a new machine. Ugh. It was going to be awful, I was sure of it. I was lying on the couch just stewing in the awfulness of it.

And then? It wasn’t! I got an email from the shop that my computer was 100% fine and ready to be picked up at my convenience.

What a relief! And what a waste! All that time stewing and agonizing… oy.

Here’s the advice I give myself all the time, and sometimes listen to: Don’t tax your life with forethought of griefIt’s so easy to imagine all the terrible things that may happen that are totally out of our control. And for what? Preparing is one thing, but just dreading and crying over something that may not happen is totally not helpful to anyone.

We don’t know what’s going to happen. Sometimes it’s hard to remember this, but it’s true. And it can be uncomfortable. It sucks not knowing what’s going to happen! It’s not easy to have to wait a week for the next episode or a show, or 48 hours for an email from a repair shop, or an interminable 30 minutes for a phone call from doctor. It’s much easier to tell ourselves that we do know what’s going to happen and it’s going to be terrible. But we can’t predict the future. We can only choose whether to spend time mourning the worst possible version of it or staying grounded in the truth of not knowing.