Saturday, October 9, 2010

Outsource My Worry

So, I’m reading this great book by a simmering wunderkind genius named Timothy Ferris. It’s called The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

I know. Right. Right? But doesn’t that title kinda make you salivate, just a little bit? Or, perhaps, depending on your current relationship with your work and your finances, it kinda makes you long to collapse in your recliner with annoyance and a bag of Skittles. Or maybe, if you’re feeling extra discouraged, it awakens a desire to go ahead and get your medical marijuana card. After all, you’ve put at least four hours of work into avoiding your work already this week. Must there be more? These damn kids today. . .

A provocative disclaimer shouts from the top of the back jacket cover: “WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK UNLESS YOU WANT TO QUIT YOUR JOB”

As my friend Olga would say, “Indeed.”

I won’t go into all the surprisingly wise and practical suggestions this book offers right now. Because that would require my doing the actual work of analyzing and condensing for you. And frankly, well, I think there’s a new episode of Family Guy available online. Also, I have to consider the best possible giant fuzzy boots for fall.

But I do want to touch on a brilliant concept from Ferris’s chapter on “Outsourcing Life: Off-Loading the Rest and a Taste of Geoarbitrage.” (I’m afraid I simply do not have the resources at the present time to explain this last term, else I get lost down a rabbit hole of my own giant fuzzy economic ignorance).

Ferris, a passionate advocate of personal outsourcing, cleverly outsources this chapter itself to another writer, AJ Jacobs, editor-at-large at Esquire magazine. Jacobs, in turn, explains how he was influenced by another Outsourcing Opus, the best-selling The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, to outsource low-end tasks of his own life. Paying bills, changing wireless services, finding his son a Tickle Me Elmo, apologizing to his wife, that sort of thing.

Delighted by his new Bangalore virtual personal assistant (pleasingly named Honey K. Balani), Jacobs decides to outsource his worry:

“For the last few weeks I’ve been tearing my hair out because a business deal is taking far too long to close. I asked Honey if she would be interested in tearing her hair out in my stead. Just for a few minutes a day. She thought it was a wonderful idea. ‘I will worry about this every day,’ she wrote. ‘Do not worry.’

“This outsourcing of my neuroses was one of the most successful experiments of the month. Every time I started to ruminate, I’d remind myself that Honey was already on the case, and I’d relax. No joke—this alone was worth it.” (Ferris, p.118)

AJ Jacobs you mad genius. I love this idea. More than anything else in life, I would vastly enjoy having Less Worry.

Seriously. I mean, sure, I want more money, more love, more freedom, more harmonious relationships, more shoes, more praise, more approval, more flowers flung by adoring fans as I walk, more of you admitting I am right and you are less right. . .

Yeah, pretty much more of everything.

And I’m a recovering junkie, so this is normal. We addicts definitely love our “More.” We love our More more than just about anything. But I don’t think we’re alone in this feeling. . . I think most of us desire. . .more. I think that’s just part of our design, part of how life evolves and unfolds, and “More,” while not necessarily “better,” isn’t necessarily bad.

But less?

Oh, in this case. Yes Oh Yes Oh Yes Oh Yes. Give me less worry. I am dying to outsource my worry! I am so excited to try this. But I don’t yet have a virtual assistant, in Bangalore or anywhere else?

Who should I ask?

Should I ask different people to worry about different aspects of my life? It doesn’t seem fair to load any one person down with all my shit. I am a skilled and gifted worrier—in fact, worrying is one of my most spectacular character assets.

I am also a very quiet worrier—don’t tend to share my worries out loud—so others, in general, don’t have to be disturbed by my worry until I begin to act out in totally unexpected and psychotic ways. Which is lots of fun for everyone involved.

Maybe I should offer to exchange worries with someone? If any of you would like to swap brooding obsessions, please let me know. One thing about my worries is that while the item in question may change, the general subject matter stays tediously consistent.

I have to worry about this a little more and then I’ll let you know. See you next week.

Much Love to All,


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