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The Panicky Things


When I was a kid, I used to be an alarmist. I didn’t handle catastrophes well. Once, the family dog somehow got tangled in his choke collar. And that was it – I swore the dog was going to DIE.

He didn’t. My mother calmly cut him out of it with wire cutters, if I remember right. Ta-da. Cooler heads prevail. The dog lived. (Only, I might add, to get eaten by alligators or mountain lions. I WISH I WERE KIDDING.)

Somewhere along the line, I stopped panicking. Instead of, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” in rapid, crazed succession – I learned to think, “Alright, what can do?”

Sometimes, that makes all the difference. Dwelling doesn’t. If I can grab a hammer and fix a fence board, awesome. If I can make soup for a sick person, great. If I can check on a horse to make sure she’s okay, fantastic.

I’m not a naturally patient person, by and large. In certain instances, for certain people, I’m Mother Theresa. But patience is not a virtue I was born with.

This morning, I was met with, “I think the horse is sick.” I asked a series of questions, and I went out to check the horse.

The horse is not sick. She just needs her feed bucket cleaned. Don’t panic. Find an easy solution.

The horse, by the way, is Flash:

Pretty, isn’t she? (I feel compelled to admit that she is not currently that clean. She rolled. In the mud.)

I’ve gotten pretty good at remaining calm when all I want to do is freak out, run in circles like a Stooge, and generally fall apart. But it doesn’t help, so I can’t justify it. If panicking were to somehow be advantageous, I might be more tempted.

Maybe this is because I’m stubborn. I know I’m stubborn. If it was an Olympic sport, I’d take home the gold, silver, and bronze. (I’m not, however, close-minded.) I think that stubbornness can be an advantage and disadvantage — if used to good or evil. So to speak.

A few summers ago, my best friend got pool shock-it in her eye. It splashed up at her face. I kept calm. I got her to rinse it out. It didn’t get better. So, we went to the emergency room. They flushed it out. She lived to tell the tale.

I’d rather get things done, and at least attempt productivity, than not. I think I’m a little bit like a guy in this department. You tell me your trouble, and I’ll tell you a possible solution – if I can.

The worst thing, for me, are the things that I can’t fix. The ones that go beyond Band-Aids and soothing voices. The ones that don’t have a certain outcome. The things that my skill set can’t even touch.

Sickness. Inability to communicate. Lack of communication. Change. Silence. Fears. Doubts.

These things pile up, sometimes. They creep into to everybody’s life like monsters, lurking in the closet – whispering in the last hours of night, when sleep seems impossible. I think that most people do their best to ignore those creatures. Push them aside. Fill the space with something else in an attempt to force out The Panicky Things.

This is when surrounding yourself with good people is, well, a good thing. People who see a ranty, spastic email at three in the morning – and offer you kind words and wisdom. Who tell you, “Hey, you’re not crazy” and mean it. Or pretend to mean it. God knows, we all float down here.

(Pause) Creepy clown.

This is the part where I thank my friends. Because you kickass. Even if some of us are geographically challenged for the time being. And even if a few of you are Canadian. I mean, you have BAGGED milk. *wink*

  1. Jessica
    April 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I am still an alarmist. Please, tell me how to tone down the cray cray Ali! I blame it on my mom and grandmother (who is forever sending me those annoying fwd:SAFETY TIPS!). The last one was about a new “trick” serial killers are up to. Apparently, they leave a recording of a crying baby outside your window so your motherly instincts will compel you to go outside. You are subsequently mugged, etc etc. Little does she know, I would be tempted to put my own crying kid outside too.

    • Ali
      April 18, 2011 at 8:48 am

      HA. You crack me up. Basically, the only trick I know to tone down the crazy? It’s just to talk yourself through it.

  2. April 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Ali, I hate to disappoint you but all of the above indicates one thing – you are perfectly normal, when it comes to worrying about things. 🙂

    P.S. What is it about pale-colored animals who just LOVE to roll… in the mud… after the rain…

    • Ali
      April 18, 2011 at 8:53 am

      Wait…did you just call me…NORMAL? *checks outside for winged pigs* 🙂

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