I was reading an article somewhere, I think it was "O" magazine, and the author mentioned that she was a ruminator. I have been a ruminator all of my life... imagining everything that could go wrong, obsessing about the past, anxious about the future, writing scenes in my mind about some encounter or event.
I've also been a bit of a risk taker, so all that ruminating isn't about what to have for breakfast. But ultimately, I've come to realize that it was silly and useless to think that much.
For example, I would worry about winter, because I don't love it. Cold weather is tough for me. And then I would worry about March. I would make lists at the end of February about what I was worrying about in the coming month. Spring break, which occasionally meant getting on an airplane. Zoe's birthday, March 17th (what kind of party? present? theme? I stink at kid's birthday parties.) Mondays were always cause for concern. And vacations. And certain phone calls. And confrontations. And on and on the list goes.
I'm quite sure that even in the womb I was busy..."Oh, who's she yelling at now? Is she smoking? Oh, goodie, here comes the caffeine!"
Then recently, just since this past February in fact, I started a meditation practice. And from that "practice" one interesting result seems to be that I spend less time ruminating (and worrying) and more time breathing and staying in the moment. I have slips, many, in fact. But overall, if I take the time to be still and pay attention to the breath, sometimes more than once a day, I find that I am...well, happier.
Now some people are naturally like this, relaxed about life, and probably don't ever need to meditate. I don't know too many, but I'm sure they exist. Given how much there is to worry about in these times, it's almost impossible not to. Four more years of Republicans in power? HELP! Disease. Global warming. Wars. The economy. Hunger. Tainted fruits and vegetables. Etc. etc. etc. STOP!
So all of that brings me back to the breath, to being in the moment, to being grateful for right now. For the quiet. "Monkey mind" is the term that Buddhists use to describe that constant ruminator that lives inside us.