THE WORRIES OF ANTICIPATION
He crosses every bridge before he comes to it, is a graphic and proverbial rendering of a description of the man who worries in anticipation. Something, sure, is going to happen. He is always fearful, not of what is, but of what is going to be. For twenty years he has managed to live and pay his rent, but at the beginning of each month he begins afresh to worry where “next month’s rent is going to come from.” He’s collected his bills fairly well for a business life-time, but if a debtor fails to send in his check on the very day he begins to worry and fear lest he fail to receive it. His wife has given him four children, but at the coming of the fifth he is sure something extraordinarily painful and adverse is going to happen.
He sees—possibly, here, I should say, she sees—their son climbing a tree. She is sure he will fall and break a leg, an arm, or his neck. Her boy mustn’t ride the horse lest he fall and injure himself; if he goes to swim he is surely in danger of being drowned, and she could never allow him or his sister to row in a boat lest it be overturned. The child must be watched momentarily, lest it fall out of the window, search out a sharp knife, swallow poison, or do some irreparable damage to the bric-a-brac.
Here let me relate an incident the truth of which is vouched for, and which clearly illustrates the difference between the attitude of worry and that of trust. One day, when Flattich, a pious minister of the Wurtemberg, was seated in his armchair, one of his foster children fell out of a second-story window, right before him, to the pavement below. He calmly ordered his daughter to go and bring up the child. On doing so it was found the little one had sustained no injury. A neighbor, however, aroused by the noise, came in and reproached Flattich for his carelessness and inattention. While she was thus remonstrating, her own child, which she had brought with her, fell from the bench upon which she had seated it, and broke its arm. “Do you see, good woman,” said the minister, “if you imagine yourself to be the sole guardian of your child, then you must constantly carry it in your arms. I commend my children to God; and even though they then fall, they are safer than were I to devote my whole time and attention to them.”
Those who anticipate evils for their children too often seem to bring down upon their loved ones the very evils they are afraid of. And one of the greatest lessons of life, and one that brings immeasurable and uncountable joys when learned, is, that Nature—the great Father-Mother of us all—is kindly disposed to us. We need not be so alarmed, so fearful, so anticipatory of evil at her hands.