Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27 (NIV)
My office is on the second floor of a historic Carnegie Library. At the turn of the twentieth century, Andrew Carnegie, in gratitude for the education he received at the local public library, donated funds to place library buildings around the country. Manatee County has two Carnegie Libraries, one in Palmetto and one in Bradenton, which went against the Carnegie Foundation rules but recognized the impediment that the Manatee River placed on moving between the two cities at that time. A few years ago, when I was promoted and needed to move back downtown from one of our historic sites, I fought being placed in the courthouse for a variety of reasons including a dislike for working in the “fishbowl.” Instead, I carved out a space for my desk in the large open room of the second floor of the Historical Records Library which once housed the main library space, but for years was only used for storage. I affectionately refer to my office as “the attic” as I am surrounded by shelves and file cabinets full of old probate files, voter’s registration books and other documents. At least I have some quiet and privacy there. At each end of the room are large fireplaces, once the only source of the building’s heat, that are framed by native fossilized rock. Over one fireplace is a painting of Mrs. Wentzel who secured the funding from the Carnegie Foundation. Over the other fireplace is a portrait of Andrew Carnegie. The two pictures often give me a start when I am deep in concentration over some problem or project. Rising from my desk, I imagine that Mrs. Wentzel stands in front of me among the shelves when I know it is simply my mind adding a body to the head that floats before me on the painting. Yesterday, I returned from a meeting and kept smelling stale cigarette smoke. I checked all around my desk, and looked outside my windows to make sure no one was sitting outside smoking. We even walked around the building to make sure that someone was not smoking near the air conditioner handlers. Nothing. I smelled it again this morning and was starting to get scared. Was someone trying to play a trick on me? Was Andrew Carnegie standing beside me with a cigarette? After much searching, I located a cigarette butt underneath the rug at my desk. I suppose I tracked it in on my shoes after yesterday’s meeting. I am relieved to know that I am not crazy and simply have an overactive imagination and an extremely sensitive nose. I got some more relief today. A recent MRI shows that the lesions on my brain are stable. None have grown so the disease is not progressing and the medicine, which I hate, is working. My worrying and fears did not produce that good news and even made it seem like I’d been imaging things. Feels a little like thinking Mr. Carnegie is smoking in my office.