Nothin’s Gonna Be All Right.

Reflections on A bad habit by L. E. Taylor, author of Elgan and Grace

“Worrying is a sin.”

Where I first heard that, I don’t remember. But I think it was a credible source, probably Scriptural. Obsessive stewing as a natural reaction to stress suggests a lack of faith. That we can control what we dread just by thinking hard about them is mildly blasphemous.

That’s God’s job.

The televangelist Joyce Meyer says, ‘You have a job description, and God has a job description. When we get those two mixed up, that’s where we always get into trouble.’

But for many of us who actually care about things, worrying is a habit. Maybe even a hobby. I heard a neologism, “disasterize,” applied to the habit some people, awash in a perpetual state of anxiety, have of stewing about imaginary problems. Often these are leaders, managers of all stripes, first-born in a family, and others who reflexively shoulder responsibilities as part of their worldview.

My Dad (Elgan, of Elgan and Grace) advised me in my early years as a self-employed commercial artist, always fretful about money or business decisions or a snowstorm of what-ifs, “Ninety-eight percent of the things we worry about never happen.”

My Mom (Grace of… well, you know, etc.) had a favorite on the same subject: “Don’t worry, nothing’s gonna be all right.” For a long time I took that to be a cynical witticism from her early years of disappointment and loss. Later, as an adult, after years of observing Grace’s indomitable optimism as a defining life force, I discovered a better translation.

As her name implies, Grace placed her emphasis on the term all right, meaning “perfect,” not the word nothing, denoting hopelessness.

In retrospect, it seems I got a lot of advice about worrying. Must have been the pained look on my angelic puss. The term “worry wart” got plenty of play in the reality-based world of Grace Ludwig Taylor. I didn’t think I was worrying, though; just chewing through obstacles, mysteries, and terrors.

Heck, I was just thinking.

Creative people are introspective.  We think; take things apart in our minds and try to put them back together without forgetting what we set out to accomplish. Graphic artists do this visually, drawing and revising, either on paper (in the olden days) or digitally on the computer screen. Mathematicians make notes on white boards (blackboards with chalk in ancient times, right after the glacier retreated), but these reflect theoretical calisthenics, first performed mentally.

Kind of like worrying a problem through to its conclusion.

But the scientist is searching for an ultimate truth: perfection. That’s the mathematician’s job. The chemist’s job. The physician’s job.

For a writer or a poet – or a parent! – perfection is an impossible dream. Best to aim a bit lower. Like excellence. This embraces humility as part of the process.  And, because excellence is a subjective word, it leaves room, always, for improvement.

In the final analysis, the best you can do is to do your best, and trust your Creator to handle the details. That is all that’s worth worrying about.

But it’s still enough to keep you awake nights.

Onward.

 

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Green Kid Heroics

Veterans Day Reflections By L.E.Taylor

The historian, Stephen Ambrose, author of Band of Brothers, said in an interview, that on D-Day, June 6th 1944 the men who took the Normandy beachheads were mostly privates and corporals led by sergeants and other corporals, because within an hour of landing most of the officers were dead.

Those privates and corporals and sergeants were in their teens and early twenties. When I was a small boy, these men were my heroes.

A twenty-year old in 2013 may not think he’ll find common ground with men and women who occupied his place on our mortal stage a century or two ago. Regrettably, in too many respects, he’d be right. But this soul-stunting myopia is not a flaw in the DNA of today’s youth; it’s born of ignorance. Misconceptions about history can beget a hubris that childishly crows, “We are who we’ve been waiting for!”

History books are not about old, dead people. They are mostly about young people.

The green kids of 2013 have neither experienced, nor been educated about the heroics of green kids who came before. My regret is not that these young men have no wars to test them, certainly today’s troubled society has no shortage of need for creative energy and youthful valor.

Young people who’ve read my book, Elgan and Grace, A Twentieth Century Saga, have remarked (with maybe a tinge of doubt), how different from their own friends, these Americans of earlier generations seemed to be. Still, the anecdotes that comprise that carefully crafted book are true; otherwise, why bother?

The heroes of my childhood were not all conscripted warriors. They were mostly the tough-minded men and women in my life who held together the home front. But for all their virtues, neither those who went to war nor those who remained Stateside were perfect. They simply did their best in a time of peril.

As 2014 approaches, who are society’s heroes that will grace the pages of our history? What are their great accomplishments that reflect our American values and esteem our sacred virtues as a civilization?

We’ll see. Say your prayers.

Which brings us to your Veteran’s Day treat for having so patiently stayed with my ramble. Get comfortable now, good reader; turn on your speakers, and enjoy a few minutes with Spitfire 944, and a green kid who really was a hero. Click here –> American Spitfire Pilot in WWII .

Onward.

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References:

Ambrose, Stephen E.; Band of Brothers; Simon & Schuster; NYC.

Ambrose, Stephen E.; D-Day; Ibid.

Ambrose, Stephen E.; Citizen Soldiers; Ibid.

Taylor, L. E.; Elgan and Grace; Friesen Press; Victoria B.C., Canada