I worry. Each day I'm bombarded from all directions with new worries, some of which are improbable, and in the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction category, just darned hard to comprehend. If these worries were physically manifested, I'd have a whole suitcase full to drag around, bogging me down and usurping my energies from more constructive activities. Is my container a small backpack or an old-style steamer trunk?
On New Year's morning 2004, I sat at my drawing board. I sketched a person surrounded by thoughts, each bubble a separate worry, so overwhelmed that all that remains visible are concerned eyes and furrowed brow. I put the concept away. By 2005, there were so many more worries that the bubbles took over. Admittedly, some of my worries weren't rational. Ebola virus, random meteorites. What were the chances?
I'm a positive, productive person. In 2004, I returned to school for a master's in sculpture. I found a way to express my worries. Literally. I made each into a tiny abstract piece of clay. Thousands of them. I trapped them within transparent sculptures of various shapes of mesh, fabric and steel. It was compulsive, obsessive and gratifying. By 2006, however, I was seriously worried about the real estate bubble, having been caught in the crash of the early '80s. While many worries are rational, I can't protect myself.
Now, on the eve of 2013, the bubbles fill the room, the house, the town. Policymakers aren't responding quickly enough, if at all, to changing dynamics. The latest tragedies are the most obvious examples. Among endless issues: drug laws that create a criminal class, super PACs and ineffective politicians. We should revisit Jeremy Bentham, an 18th- and 19th-century philosopher and egalitarian who wrote, "The greatest happiness of the greatest number, that is the measure of right and wrong." When a cost exceeds a benefit to society, antidotes must be found.
In those first few moments of waking consciousness in the morning, amid the mist of lingering worries, I must find one kernel of enthusiastic optimism to get me moving toward my day.