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.”