At my age, 74, it gets more common to have worries pop up in my life that are different from younger person concerns.
Health problems, for example. They occur at any age, but when you're young, things that are wrong with you tend to get better. However, the older we get, the more likely we have to deal with chronic problems, things that aren't going to go away.
Best we can do is manage them so they're annoyances, not major obstacles to living an enjoyable life.
I find that when I have a doctor appointment scheduled where I'm not sure whether the news I'm going to get about a health problem will be good or bad, my mind sometimes gets anxious over the uncertainty.
Then, when the day of the appointment comes and I learn what the doctor has to say, I feel better -- no matter what happened.
One lesson from this is what I've known for a long time: our minds are adept at imagining both the worst that can happen, and the best that can happen, even though usually what actually happens is somewhere in-between.
A related lesson is how comforting four simple words can be when I take them to heart: It had to be.
When I say that to myself, no matter what the "It" is that has occurred, I feel grounded, in touch with reality, part of the whole of life that is so much greater than my small self.
Sure, in a sense It had to be is a truism. After all, if something has happened, obviously it had to be, or it wouldn't have happened.
But saying those words reminds me that just as religious believers like to submit themselves to what they regard as God's will, or God's plan for them, us atheists can enjoy our submission to the marvelous chains of cause and effect, or determinism, that produce everything in existence.
Including the state of our health. And happiness. And all the other thoughts, emotions, actions, and states of being that combine to produce what we call "my life."
Looking forward from now, the future is uncertain. Looking backward from now, the conditions of this present moment were completely determined. Which means, everything that occurs in the future will eventually become the past that was also completely determined.
So It had to be, while a truism, is a valuable reminder of how reality outside of our subjective perceptions actually is.
We worry about an uncertain future, losing sight of the fact that it really isn't uncertain at all. Only one thing is going to happen: that which happens. Likewise, we engage in regrets about a past that didn't turn out as we wanted, losing sight of the fact that the past could only turn out in one way: that which occurred.
The big bang had to be. The formation of the Milky Way Galaxy had to be. The creation of our solar system had to be. Earth had to be. Evolution had to be. Extinction of the dinosaurs had to be. The rise of Homo sapiens had to be. The birth and death of each of our ancestors had to be. The circumstances of our life from infancy to the present moment had to be.
Pretty damn simple: It all had to be. No exceptions. Our joys and sorrows had to be. Our successes and failures had to be. My writing this blog post had to be. Your reading it had to be.
We can complicate life all we want, or simplify it all we want. Regardless, it had to be. That's why I love those four words: It had to be.