There are many responses to stress, none of which are apt to work consistently when under the gun. I know – I have tried. Deep breathing and centering are now ingrained habits. When even they fail to quell the chaos, I know my threshold is once again being stretched to accommodate greater tolerance for living in this sometimes-perplexing melee of recorded history’s twenty-first century.
Over time and with increasing levels of unavoidable duress, the dance has changed tempo. Instead of being frustrated at events, other stressed-out short-tempered people and telephone waiting times, I simply bow once again to technology which allows me to set the phone on the counter, speaker engaged, while going about my morning. This is one of the greatest boons of the electronic age, in my opinion. Gone is the stiff neck from sandwiching receiver between ear and shoulder; absent the endless hours in a week spent listening to badly broadcast elevator music interludes. In extreme cases, “volume down” is a lifesaver. The world speeds up, but I can choose to detach, at least in bits and snatches – much like social networking in reverse.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join em springs to mind. Like paddling downstream, not trying to fight the current of what simply is allows acceptance to supplant frustration. Instead of rising to the challenges presented by an impossible pace, I now, perhaps uncharacteristically, withdraw.
Today presents its fair share of demands. Rising with a mind filled with the dozen or so fairly important steps to take toward our second move in two months, calls are made and energy dispersed. I show up frantically late at the acupuncturist’s, only to hear a squawking over my shoulder once I settle into my seat. Noting the tunnel vision of habit, I wonder how, in such a small space, I could have missed a large African Gray perched atop her enclosure. Loving animals as I do, I immediately rise to visit, dropping fragments of scattered atoms to my feet. To overwhelm animals with the splintered cares of human existence seems counterintuitive. It’s why I get along so well with non-hominids, for there is an instant ability to slow down and attune to what I perceive is their level. I hardly need to think about it.
I believe this is why animals are such amazing companions, for they demonstrate, if one is open to it, how to discover a pivot point in the midst of the everyday turmoil of life on the planet, such as it has become. Wordlessly we are invited into the realm of the sacred, to root our cares and joys deep into the rich soil of Mother Earth. In this brief interstices between birth and death, it is here we draw deep from the well of comfort; retreating as animals might, to lick our wounds or preen our feathers and heal. In these brief encounters with creatures who surpass our own knowing, we become part of what is whole and complete and right in the world.
I walk out into brilliant sunlight, eyes blinking, heart and arms wide open to embrace the miracle and grace of another day.