on mama goats, the future, and our endless need to worry

Someone told me today that this is it – that these are the golden times. This is the best I could ever have, and the healthiest I could ever be, with everything right at my fingertips and so much to appreciate. And she was right…she was.

Maybe she already knew, and maybe she didn’t, but I’ve been worrying a lot lately. And up until the moment that I hit Publish on this post, I’ve been worrying about what she said, too.

I know that I have a lot to be grateful for. I have my health, I have a steady income, I have baby goats, I have a loving relationship, I just got a cheaper rate on my car insurance, and I’m taking influential steps towards simplifying my life and my mind in ways that will hopefully make my 30s my best years yet. But while I feel a sense of hope in this coming year, I know that there is still a lot of uncertainty that awaits me, too. There are a lot of unknowns that stand to affect a few of those really great things I have going for me right now, and quite honestly, it’s tearing me to pieces inside. These factors are entirely out of my control – even the things I can do to ease the impending situation will have absolutely no effect on the outcome. And that’s terrifying.

I went to a really inspiring yoga class the other night, in which my instructor proceeded to share with all of us the 19 months of strife she’s been enduring in her personal life. Part therapy, part motivational speaking, the moral of her story was rooted in one thing: worry. And the fact that worry actually does nothing for us.

In a similar vein of thought, we recently set Mama Goat and her babies free to wander in the pasture with the other goats. Mama loves to get her face in some dog food, and she’s prone to wander towards whatever food source looks the most appealing in any given moment. Her babies, on the other hand, need sleep. So while they’re perfectly content to tuck themselves back into the warm shavings of the old doghouse where they were born, Mama is all over the place. And after a few minutes of satiating her appetite, she’s bound to realize that her babies are nowhere to be found. At which point, she begins screaming her dang head off, looking for them.

Now, without even seeing them, I know exactly where those little boogers are. And 3 times this morning, I strapped on my warm Ugg boots (don’t hate) and walked out to the pasture to try and talk some sense into a very frantic Mama Goat. “Come with me,” I’d tell her, trying to push her rump towards the dog house. “They’re inside, sleeping.” But she wouldn’t budge; she just kept screaming.

Mind you, this is not a cute little scream. This is more like the screaming sheep viral video that took over the internet a couple years ago, and it is not pleasant or easy to ignore.

But eventually, I did get her over towards the house, where she could see her babies nested inside. And still, she screamed – and they refused to respond because, like I said, they were tired. Obviously, in her mind, everything was wrong. Maybe those weren’t even her babies, you know? So I’d pick one up, waking it from its slumber, and she’d see it, hear it give a little “meeeehhhh” sound, and be satisfied. And I’d leave to resume my morning routine inside, only to hear her screaming once again.

By the time I was ready to leave for work, I figured she could handle her own problems. There was no peace of mind that I could give her, because she only wanted to worry.

Which made me think, How often do we waste our lives and our precious time by screaming and worrying about nothing? How often do we make ourselves sick – physically and mentally ill – over the things that may not have answers, or have answers that cannot be changed? In Mama Goat’s case, her answer is right in front of her – she’s probably just a little too dim-witted to understand the concept of object permanence.

But frustrated as I was with her this morning – knowing that nothing was wrong and that those babies would find her as soon as they needed her, given she didn’t travel too far – I could see a very ridiculous and familiar part of her within me. Within my yoga instructor. Within every single human being who thinks they can solve a problem simply by worrying about it.

You see, there are things in this world that we can change. There are facts of our lives that are in our favor. And there are also terrible things that probably await us at some point in life – things that we hope and pray will never come to fruition, but also can’t be prevented. But sitting here right now, worrying about where my future childrens’ bedrooms will fit in our small house, or what dress I’m going to get married in, or how long my job will last, or whether or not I have a terrible disease lurking in my DNA that won’t show itself for another 30 years, will not change any of it.

But right now, all I can do is try to see the light, take care of myself, book a bridal gown appointment, and keep going out to the pasture with Mama Goat every time she thinks her babies have disappeared – until she finally realizes they were never really gone and her worrying was never the thing that found them.