Thursday, August 9, 2012


Are you familiar with those moments when, after a long period of accumulating stress, you say to yourself, okay, now's the time to take a few days to step back from everything and just relax?  And barely do you have time to say the first aaah and take the first breath before the bombardment begins: new demands, new obligations, new opportunities... it all begins to pile up, until you think to yourself in desperation: this will never end.

And some of these things are welcome: for me, just recently, a weekend with my grandson, a new writing assignment on a topic that interests and engages me.  And some unwelcome: a sudden, worrisome illness in the family; George, the dog, needs to go in for (expensive!) surgery to remove a growth from his face.  But all require attention, all create new anxiety and stress.

The correct response, I know, is to allow myself, patiently and equanimously, to "go with the flow" of each of these distractions as it arises.  There is truly never an end to them--or only the inevitable end that I do not wish for.  Not yet.  And even then, I wonder, does some unforeseeable rebirth speed us on into another life of turbulence and worry?  Do we, when that moment comes, actually "rest"?  "In peace"?  Meantime the flow continues to be interrupted by rocks and logjams, sudden falls and eddies.  Rarely, and only briefly, is the sailing smooth.

The mistake, perhaps, is to set up an expectation.  Mid-July, I had determined, is the moment to leave the city and its pressures behind, settle down in our lovely cottage at the beach, and see ahead of me a stretch of delicious time with nothing to do but catch up with some reading and create some leisurely space in which to write.  Eat consciously.  Follow a good regimen of exercise and rest...  Now, approaching mid-August, that expectation remains unfulfilled. I'm strung out like a child's cat's cradle.  More accurately, twisted into inner knots.  And I add to my stress, stubbornly, by stressing over it!

You know what I mean?  I'm sure you do.

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