In our collection of old books, you’ll find a lot of F.D. Van Amburgh. He possessed a killer sense of dry humor in his writing as well as a directness that makes me smile from the inside out.
After nearly 9 hours spent working in front of the computer yesterday, I was hesitant to approach the beast this morning. So, around 6:30 am, my cat Alexa and I approached a book by Mr. Van Amburgh instead.
I pulled “Just Common Sense” (Copyright 1920) off the shelf and bathed my morning in coffee, cat purrs, cinnamon cereal, and common sense.
Life is almost always good, but sometimes it’s extra good.
F.D. Van Amburgh’s Just Common Sense books are unique in that they read more like a series of twitter updates – except longer. Someone with little patience for older books or little patience for thinking would cast one of these books aside pretty quickly – without even realizing the value of their castoff.
Personally, I like to dig around inside the rambling thoughts like I’m on a treasure hunt. I never leave one of his books empty handed.
Below is an excerpt from a chapter titled “WORRY A CRIME.” After F.D. Van Amburgh has had his say, we’ll put everything together. Think of it as the great author providing us with pieces of a quilt and leaving it up to us to sew all of the pieces together to create something worthwhile.
WORRY A CRIME (1920)
Why worry over things you expect will happen to harm you? Why not worry through some work that will help you get out of harm’s way?
Fear, apprehension, torment, fretting, misgiving – all these will mar your possibility for progress.
Service, activity, exertion, employment – these are the things that will soon cause you to forget much of your troubles, provided you get sufficiently interested in your work. And here is the punch: “Provided you get sufficiently interested in your work.”
The human that is not inspired by work is a servant – just a servant.
The individual that is interested, and makes a strenuous effort to achieve nothing short of perfection, is rendering a service to the world – and the world is hungry for such service.
The confirmed pessimist is passe’.
Why try to borrow the bogy of trouble that belongs to tomorrow? Why try to reach out into the future to find trouble? Why not go along and pay the regular price that trouble is costing you for having been an extravagant idiot in days gone by.
Worry weakens the soul, saddens the heart, and holds more humans back than lack of ability.
Worry is the result of some form of weakness.
Ask yourself the question: Why should I worry?
And then when you find out the reason why, remove the reason.
When trials and troubles from everywhere seem greater than you can possibly bear – when the world hands you its cankering cup, let your watchword be: “Never give up!”
Why carry care to bed with you? Why pack trouble on your back? Work and trouble will not mix. Why not work and not worry? If you do not work, you will worry.
Clog a man’s mind with worries over his home and home life, and you lower his worth to himself and to others in proportion to the degree of his domestic troubles.
The man that worries a lot and only laughs a little gets a constipated countenance.
Why shoot butterflies with rifles? Why worry over trifles? – F.D. Van Amburgh, Just Common Sense (Copyright 1920)
That’s what I love about reading Van Amburgh. You can read one sentence and while the “What the heck —” thought bubble is forming over your head, he hits you with something like constipated countenance and your thought bubble bursts.
Below are the top ten things I pull from this chapter on worry and worrying:
- Rather than spend time worrying about a particular matter, use the time and energy to, as Van Amburgh says, “get out of harm’s way!” Be productive – even if it’s in an area unrelated to your worry. Inactivity is the breeding ground for worry and worrisome thoughts multiply faster than rabbits on Viagra.
- Fear and anxiety actually weaken you, increasing the odds of your worries actually coming to fruition. Negative thoughts do that to a person – they wear them down and make them fair game for a host of trouble.
- Activity slams the door in worry’s face. Inactivity invites it to come in, stay, and make itself comfortable. Don’t be idle.
- If we’re worrisome and doubt our abilities – no on else will have any confidence in us either. They’ll take us at our own face value. Have confidence in yourself and what you’re able to accomplish.
- When you’re worried, you need to first identify the problem. For example, are you worried about paying the rent? Pinpoint where the worry and anxiety are coming from – being as specific as possible.
- Once you know the source of the worry, eliminate the problem. If it’s a money issue, find a way to make a little more money to hold you over. Sell the golf clubs in the back of the garage, sell old books on eBay (that one hurt to even type) or pick up a part time job on weekends (that one hurt even worse).
- When is the right time to give up? Never! As long as there’s breath within you, fight for your dreams. Don’t give up on the dream. I read something once that has stuck with me. Nathan Hangen once said, “Don’t give up before it pays off.”
- One should never, ever want to be accused of being a pessimist. It’s an insult of the highest order but, when the insult is hurled, it is almost always deservedly so.
- Worry holds more people back than a lack of ability could ever hope to.
- Finally, I love Van Amburgh’s wording far too much to touch it, so I’ll just leave it as is: The man that worries a lot and only laughs a little gets a constipated countenance. Now, tell me, who wants to sign up for that?