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By Kevin Holten
By Kevin Holten

Holten: No more worries for me

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columns Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

I've decided to give up something for Lent, even though it's not the season. That something is "worry." I'm not going to worry anymore. Worry doesn't do any good, so why worry about it?

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Mr. Dictionary says that "worry" means to torment one's self. Therefore, worry is self-inflicted. How stupid is that? You wouldn't hit yourself with a hammer, would you? So why worry?

Still, if worry was a thing, I wonder what it would look like. Well, guess what? It is a thing and it looks like chewed fingernails, a bar patron slurring their words, a frazzled parent holding a crying baby on an airplane and a jerk in a checkout line.

It's a tapping toe and a twitch, a young person with college loans looking for a job, a family wondering how they are going to make ends meet, a concussed rodeo cowboy, a jealous spouse and someone pacing in a hospital.

In other words, it's you and me because at one time or another at least some of the above was me and might have even been we.

I once heard a quote that said, "Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday."

That's a sad commentary, isn't it? We waste a perfectly good gift, like a day, and then waste the next day by worrying about the day after that?

Still, when you think about it, we don't really want to give up worrying, do we? After all, it's not an easy thing to let go of. In fact, it's kind of like saying goodbye to an old friend, a crutch, training wheels and a good-luck charm.

That's because worrying gives us control, so we think. It's our investment in the outcome and it's the price we think we have to pay for what we think we want.

I learned this lesson from some calves during branding last weekend at the Little Missouri Cattle Ranch, 25 miles north of Medora.

Cows and calves make everything so difficult just because they worry, worry and worry some more, when they could make things go so much easier if they'd just relax, get in line, enjoy the sunshine, get a little shot and a searing brand, and go on their merry way.

After all, branding is more about making sure all the cattle are healthy and tagging them so that you can tell them apart than anything else. Oh sure, getting a brand is not all that fun but neither is getting a tattoo, going to the dentist or having a colonoscopy. Still, moments later, those same fretting calves are frolicking in the pasture like nothing ever happened.

Of course, there was one calf that we never could catch up to and after running my horse to the point of a near heart attack, I finally gave up and told the calf that he could make his own life choices if he thought he was smarter than me. And he clearly did, smirking as he ran off to suck on his mother's udder.

For a moment, I hated him and wished I had a gun until I realized that if I was going to hate him I'd have to hate myself because he's the calf version of me: bull-headed (get it?), brash, obstinate, opinionated, mostly uncoachable and too smart for his own good.

He's a calf among nearly 200 that thinks he knows more than all the others, will probably lead them in some kind of ranch-style revolt someday and will either end up as your next tasty steak on the barbeque or the king of the pasture and nothing in between.

Then again, there might be another element that separates him from his bovine babes and buddies and perhaps that is why he frustrates me so much. Because, already in his short life he has tossed aside something that I only now figured out that I have to get rid of.

And what is that? Worry, of course.

Holten is the manager of The Drill, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at kholten@thedickinsonpress.com.

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