Jerry was a strange boy. No one could understand him. His parents had known there was something wrong with him from a young age. He was seventeen now, and some people were still uncomfortable with it.
Some children are born with special talents or abilities in this world. Some can fly, some can move extremely fast, some can turn invisible. These children are gifted. But Jerry was not gifted. He actually lacked an ability that everyone else seemed to have, that took up so much of people’s energy and time. Jerry, could not worry.
He had never been able to. He was simply unable to worry. He couldn’t worry even when he tried to. They had named a condition after him – Jerryitis – the inability to worry.
“You must be worried about something?!” questioned his peers and elders. “Anything…anything at all?”
Jerry would just shrug his shoulders… “No,” he would say simply.
“I don’t understand him,” his father would often repeat to himself and anyone else who would listen. “He has so much to worry about. His future is not secure, who knows what could happen next?”
“We just have to try to accept the fact that he can’t worry,” his mother would reason, “it is not his fault, he can’t help it, he just can’t do it like we can, although…” she would say under her breath, “…I can’t help but worry about him sometimes.”
Jerry’s nearest and dearest just wanted him to have a good life, a safe life, a happy life. How could one be safe and happy without worrying beforehand? Everyone seemed to overlook the fact that Jerry was quite happy already, moving quite finely in Life.
People would usually overlook his happiness as if it were not real, as if he had not earned it yet, as if he had not yet a reason to be happy, or that his freedom from worry was unjustified. This was a fair enough assumption, since happiness, like everything else, must be earned in this life.
“Don’t you think it strange that you can’t worry like the rest of us?” asked his sister one day.
“Perhaps,” replied Jerry, quite serenely.
“Well do you ever think there must be something wrong with you?” continued his sister.
“How can I decide what is wrong or right with me, based purely on comparison with other people?” he would reply. “How can I possibly come to a conclusion that is worthy of trust, if it is built merely on comparison?”
It was no use. Jerry did not seem to be able to understand the logic and reasoning of his fellow people. It was as if he were a lost cause.
One day a visitor came from a nearby town. He was tall, well dressed and wealthy-looking, with an air of decency and goodwill. He had heard about this boy with the only known case of Jerryitis in the world. He was eager to see him, interested, fascinated with this boy’s apparent lack of ability to worry.
“I wish to see the boy who can not worry!” he announced in the town square, to anyone who would listen. “Where is he?”
“What do you want to see him for?” replied Cecil standing nearby – one of the only flying children of his generation. “He’s wrong in the head. My parents told me about him. I can fly though. Watch.”
Cecil flew up into the air and did three loop-the-loops, before returning back to the ground for approval.
“Yes yes very good,” said the visitor hurriedly, “now where is this boy without worry?”
“He lives just a minute from here,” said Cecil. “I can show you where he lives.”
“Excellent, thank you dear boy.”
Cecil’s heart was warmed by this gratitude from the stranger. Cecil had been so admired for his flying all of his life, that he had begun to feel quite uncomfortable at the fact that this visitor from out of town was not at all impressed by his flying skills. Luckily, however, showing him where Jerry lived was sure to win him some approval.
“Follow me,” smiled Cecil, cheekily, as he took off again into the air. He was ready to return back to his visitor on the ground after jestfully showing off once more, but was suddenly surprised to notice this new visitor right beside him, in the air.
“You can fly as well?! Why didn’t you say anything before?” questioned Cecil, stunned that anyone would not announce their gifts on introduction. Flying was becoming rarer and rarer these days, so his parents would tell him.
“There was no need to,” replied the visitor. “You will notice as you get older, my boy, that trying to impress people is a huge waste of energy and a stupid way to spend your time.”
The air made that familiar whistling noise in their ears.
“People may be impressed by you,” he continued, “but if you are trying to impress people, you are like a clown at work all hours of the day, always looking for the next round of applause. You will exhaust yourself, my boy, and lose your energy for flight. Don’t waste your time trying to convince me or anyone else of your worth, I am certainly not interested. Know your own worth, for what you already are. No one can give you that or take it away from you.”
Young Cecil had never heard anyone speak like this before. It felt good, it felt warm. He liked his new acquaintance.
“There it is,” pointed Cecil, as both figures descended to the ground, landing lightly before a cosy-looking cottage on the corner of the road.
“He lives there,” said Cecil, still pointing.
“Ah, thank you dear boy,” replied the visitor. “May I ask your name?”
“Cecil…” wondered the visitor, “…what is your favourite drink?”
“Oh I love the Sparkle drink they sell down there,” pointed Cecil to the shop down the road. “My parents let me have it when they are pleased with me…” he stopped speaking, because his new friend had disappeared. The man was nowhere to be seen. After ten seconds of Cecil looking around, confused and smiling, the visitor appeared before him again, right where he had just been standing, except this time he was holding two cold bottles of Cecil’s favourite Sparkle drink.
“Here you are,” the visitor said, “these are for you.” He handed both bottles to Cecil, who took them with two open hands.
Feeling both stunned and delighted, Cecil thanked the man and gave one back to him. “Would you like one?” he asked.
“Oh, how kind, thank you,” replied the visitor. “Shall we sit?”
Two white chairs appeared beside them, and so they sat, enjoying the view of the park that the cottage overlooked, whilst sipping (and sometimes guzzling) this intensely fresh and alive beverage that the visitor had just purchased from the shop. It is a wonderful drink, because it tastes however the drinker wishes it to. Cecil’s tasted like golden syrup, and the visitor’s tasted like fresh strawberries.
Cecil was very fond of his new friend, quite in awe of him, but he could not fully understand him. He had all these gifts, but did not even seem to want to talk about them!
“What else can you do?” asked Cecil, as casually as possible.
“Ah, well!” laughed the visitor. “Many things. I have been very lucky with my gifts. I can fly, summon objects, move faster than the eye can see…I can do so many things. But there is one ability I wish I did not have.”
“What?” asked Cecil.
“The ability to worry,” said the man, definitively.
“My parents worry a lot,” said Cecil, understandingly. “They are always worrying about my flying – if it will stay for long, how good I will be – stuff like that. They say I’m too young to worry about things, but I’m due to start quite soon.”
The visitor sipped the remainder of his beverage, realising that during his drink with his young accomplice, he had no longer been feeling so hurried to meet the boy who could not worry. He paused for a moment and took a breath. Then he arose from his seat.
“I feel it is time for me to meet this boy without worry now,” expressed the visitor, looking at Cecil. “Would you care to join me?”
“Ah, no thanks,” replied Cecil. “My parents say not to speak with Jerry, since he may take away all chance I have at worrying when I’m older.”
“I see,” said the visitor, concerned. Before he could try to convince Cecil otherwise, Cecil was in the air.
“I’ll come back to say goodbye in an hour’s time,” he called cheerfully from above, and off he flew into the distance.
The visitor turned to face the cottage and began his approach towards the door. He was a few steps from the oak-laden entrance, when he heard melodic whistling coming from behind him. He turned to see a young man walking towards him, looking at him with a calm gaze, as if he was in no way surprised to see a stranger at his door.
This young man was not carrying the trouble of the ordinary teen.
“Jerry, I presume?” asked the visitor, knowingly.
“Yes, come in Albert,” said Jerry, to the absolute amazement of his new guest. He had seen and heard of many gifts, but appearing to know a stranger’s name was one he had not heard of before.
As he clicked the door shut behind him, Jerry, out of habit, was about to ask Albert if he would like a drink, when he realised there was no point. Albert looked quite quenched.
The two sat down in unison, following Jerry’s gesture, facing each other in two cosy, welcoming armchairs. They could hear a clock ticking from somewhere, but no time seemed to be passing.
They sat there in silence. They looked at each other, and said nothing. All of Albert’s questions he had stored up had completely escaped him, as if he had lost them. He just remained there empty, without any concern at all. It felt strange at first, but then he began to relax into it. Then he began to laugh, quite uncontrollably at first. How wonderful it was to be without any worry at all! Not only to be without it, but to see the futility of it. All of his worries had never helped him in the slightest! How mad it all was!
He had always felt as if something was missing, as if something was not quite right. As he sat in this exquisitely comfortable chair, he felt this uneasy feeling had not been based on anything. He had always given a reason for it, explained it or justified it in some way, but it was just a belief he had purchased, in the same way he had purchased the drinks for Cecil! This belief that there was something missing, something undone, something not quite right, was now a myth to him!
Jerry was enjoying this revelation taking place within Albert, and also knew that he would soon be speaking with Cecil, who was now quietly peering in through the garden window, just behind and to the right of Jerry.
“My parents must be mad,” thought Cecil to himself. “Why would they worry? It doesn’t seem to have a useful purpose…” he could feel all of his worry abilities, presently in seed-form, being burnt within him, leaving him feeling even lighter, even freer, and he no longer found himself preoccupied with the approval of the next person he planned to meet! He sat down in the front garden, quite happy, for once, to not need to do or think of anything at all.
Cecil overheard the two in the house exchange thanks and gratitude, soon after which he saw his drinking partner emerge from the front door. The two acknowledged each other with a gentle nod, as they began to walk together, back to where they had first met.
They didn’t feel they needed to fly anymore today. They were happy to enjoy the walk, to enjoy not needing to be elsewhere, to simply walk on the Earth. Flying was wonderful, and was surely useful, but just for now, they were happy to walk again.
They felt this indescribable joy in the absence of all worry. Albert was no longer carrying his past worries, and Cecil was no longer carrying his parents’. They could not explain what had happened, but they both knew that hiding beneath all worry, was a natural joy of being alive. Despite the fact that both could fly, they had never felt such a lightness.
After a beautifully uneventful walk together, they returned, after some while, to their meeting point. They stopped and faced each other. They knew that they would never be able to worry about anything for as long as they would live. Jerry had somehow taken their ability from them, and they were quite happy about it.
“Thanks for the drink,” said Cecil, looking up at his new friend, knowing this would not be the last time the two would meet. “Thank you for your trustworthy guidance, my boy,” said Albert, smiling down at his accomplice. And with that, the two friends parted ways, Cecil into his house, and Albert into thin air.
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