My water bottle clanged on the floor. “Sorry a-bough-t that.” I said as I swooped up the offending bottle in a half-dozed stupor. “It’s uhh-kay.” Would life be better without these sorts of embarrassing interactions? Without these grimy grimaces, how can we know what glittery glory feels like? Perhaps it would be nicer to be free of stress, anxiety, and worries over the thises and thats of life, but sometimes that friction leads to more!
“You look sicker than normal.”
The younger furniture mover reclined in her seat, cradling her dark-orange water bottle.
“Yeah. I feel it, too.”
The older mover readjusted his faded red cap and looked over.
“Maybe you should go home?”
She looked pale.
“My nausea is tolerable, headache manageable… and I need the hours.”
The older mover started up the truck for their morning route.
“At least it’s a short run. We should be back by 11.”
Meal portions are too large. It takes a certain discipline to have a meal, like this 5-star chicken alfredo, decide to only eat half, and commit to that. Especially when the second half won’t be as good: the chicken too cold, the spaghetti too burned, the atmosphere too dull. Yet, practicing the discipline to say, “no, I’m good” to overindulgence is probably the third greatest feeling in life. This delaying gratification becomes easier with practice.
There is probably no entity that would willingly advocate for the endless ubiquitous pain of every creature in the universe. If there were, that creature would be so mauled by negative emotions, unable to dispell them, that they would thrash out in so much agony that the results would destroy everything in sight. What a twisted, terrible fate! Yet, how easy is it to fall into that trap? It just takes a few bad days…
I operate with a hot/cold approach to doing work. While I’m overheating my brain by writing, my body should be cooling itself off in a relaxed state. When I’ve completed my writing for that part of the day, my mind is thoroughly emptied, so then I can dispell some of that physical energy into a rowing set or doing some other physically laborious activity. When I’m both mentally and physically tired, I sleep almost instantaneously!
I like to “get lost.” Particularly on my lunch breaks, if I brought my lunch, I’ll wander somewhere new to eat, then write. If not, I’ll walk anonymously into any large crowd to shed the artificial interpretations of my ego related to my perceived stresses throughout my journey of sustenance. Forgetting about myself is a useful way for me to regulate the looming sense of disaster after disaster that, if unregulated, could lead to insobriety.
“Rowers always have strong arms!” My boss’s boss then grabbed my wimpy bicep, covered the awkwardness with a quick platitude, and we changed topics during our lunch meeting last year. Only last week did that sink in: I have weak arms. My leg-focused rowing form made my leg muscles solid, especially my calves, it’s just I’ve been under-utilizing my arms. I’m seeing an increase in my meter counts now that I’m building my arm muscles.
It started with a humble blue one. No harm. Just a little extra sugar to get me through the day. They’re just right there, free; easy. These little candies are innocent enough to where, before I realized it, I was instinctively eating handfuls each and every shift. Oops. So much for innocence. When times are hard, stress is everywhere, I know subconsciously look for little moments of respite, positive or not. Is there a fix?
I face my fears during every rowing set. Sometimes, it’s nothing dramatic; just investing time into moving my limbs around. Usually, I’ll focus subconsciously on some internal turmoil along with routes through that. If it was one awkward conversation, I might ruminate about how much I care about future similar awkwardnesses. If it’s addressing some lingering stress, I’ll gather up the courage to face it down. We should often practice these sorts of fear staredowns.
With focused discipline, you can quiet the mind enough of the rattles of stress and anxiety to do almost anything. You can subconsciously mute the noisy office or do the impossible. What that requires, however, is the occasional respite. Not a relapse or reclusion, just a quick relaxing check-in to see if everything is alright. Without that, motivation breaks, weakness seeps in, and the next time you’re tempted by something bad, you might take it.