June 01, 2004

calming down

Once upon a time many thousands of years, or so the stories go, when you felt stress was a good thing. It signaled your adrenal glands, which obligingly produced adrenaline and you ran the hell away from the stressor, presumably a very large mammal with very sharp teeth. Once upon a time, it made sense to feel tension throughout your body. It kept you alert, it gave you a lifesaving boost.

Now? Well, I think there are still times itís useful, and not just when running from a mugger. When you walk into an important meeting, when you get a phone call that might make the difference between two futures depending on how you respond then and there, those times itís good to have that extra zing! in your bloodstream. But these days the stressor doesnít usually wander off back into the forest, it stays about, lurking on the edges of your life. Sometimes for months. What do you do then?

Last year at this time, Dan was between jobs. The market was extremely, absurdly competitive. Every gig had dozens of applicants, some with mind-bendingly great resumes, some who were close personal friends with the producers, still others who had no children at home, therefore could avow their willingness to work excessive overtime and love every minute of it. And the window of opportunity was narrow, just a couple of months and then every show would be staffed up for the season. And here I was, with no income and no quick scheme on the horizon, either. Dan the sole breadwinner might be out of work for a year. Stress? You might say that. It devoured much of our summer, though we worked hard to play anyway.

This year we have other, school-related reasons for ongoing, underlying stress. Where will Damian go in the fall? Will it be good? Will he be happy? Will he continue to grow into himself, become more completely who heís meant to be? Can we pull this off? What will it entail? Enough reasons for a prolonged thrumming under the skin, a constant beat of tension in my pulse.

But. This may be crucially important, but there is no bad ending. We will win, I believe that, but even if we donít, there are workarounds, there are alternatives, there are solutions both temporary and long term. The biggest risk we take is financial and weíre not about to lose our house on this gamble. And itís not like we have a choice. We have to do this, we have to pursue this for our childís sake. And so really, whatís the point in worrying? Whatís the point in letting the stress take over our lives, consume our summer? Why not live and enjoy each other and the things we can do together during Danís summer vacation, yes, even amidst the planning and strategizing and information gathering and the inevitable meetings? Why not let the stressful events be immediately stressful, let the adrenaline rush focus us when the need arises but let the rest of life be just that? Life. Normal, enjoyable life. Why not give ourselves memories and live now fully and completely? It will all be what it is and worrying wonít change that.

I feel calm tonight. Happy, even. After all, why not?

Posted by Tamar at June 1, 2004 09:59 PM