Rocking chair worries

At the one-hundredth-birthday party for Everett Gillis several years ago, he was asked the proverbial question, “To what to you attribute your longevity?”

His reply, “I don’t worry about things I can’t do anything about.”

Isn’t that profound?

We can’t do anything about the war in the Ukraine, but we can send support to the people, whether that’s in the form of money or prayers or supplies. We can’t do anything about the knot heads in other places who are bent on killing those in law enforcement, yet we can surround the lawmen in our community and area with respect, and teach our kids to do the same, as the attitude all starts in the home.

The weather is out of everyone’s hands, so we can hang on, pray for rain, but there’s no use worrying about it. I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, especially when one’s livelihoods are so dependent on the weather, but it is a great example of, “I don’t worry about things I can’t do anything about.”

We can be disquieted about all of the newcomers to the area; how much change will they try to force on us? We like things the way they are. They didn’t like things the way they were where they lived before, so they move here. And they begin to want changes. They say they don’t like the dusty roads so the roads must be paved. They move near a farm, then complain about the odor, the noise, the dust, and the early work hours observed by the farmers. They figure since they live in the country, their dogs can have run of the land with no barriers and no concern about the farmer’s sheep or cattle. Since their dogs have never had such freedom, they don’t know about manners, and neither do their owners. They don’t worry about the dogs running around, don’t even give a thought to it. Then their dogs get the pack mentality and gang up on a lamb; the dogs get shot, as the law allows. The newcomer then worries about the crazy farmer and the law they don’t like, instead of realizing it is they and their dogs that need adjusting.

After buying groceries and supplies of which I had run low, last week I bought one very full cart for $350. One cart. I could worry about the people who haven’t got the money to buy the bare necessities at the grocery store, but that wouldn’t be productive. Instead of worry, I demonstrate concern. I can give funds to the local food pantry to assist in a tangible way or purchase and donate items to the pantry. Either way I am helping with concern, not worrying.

There are times when worry can be alleviated by action. If I worry that the calves will get out an open gate, I close the gate. Problem solved.

As Erma Bombeck said, “Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

Sanders writes at her family ranch in southwestern South Dakota. A national award winning columnist and author, she can be reached through her website,

Peggy Sanders


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