Stress is an interesting and relative thing. When you live in the lap of luxury, you can get very stressed when you purse doesn't match your shoes for the big gala. When you are a suburban mom, you can get very stressed with the endless demands of child-raising, housekeeping and work. When you live a "regular" American life, you can get very stressed when you overspent at the pizza place and now you have to recalculate the budget to be able to pay the electric bill. When you live on the poverty line, you can get very stressed figuring out how to simply keep your family in a house while you watch those all around you sipping lattes. When you are suddenly facing a debilitating illness or physical limitation when you are used to being healthy, the stress rocks your world.
Ironically, the level of stress and the physiological response to it differs little in all of these scenarios. You breathe faster and more shallowly. Your muscles tense. Your lips purse. Your blood pressure goes up. You have anxiety, etc. Sometimes you devolve from stressed to depressed. But when you are a rural farmer in Southeast Asia fighting for your very life and livelihood on a daily basis with the devastations of natural disasters, droughts, floods, and disease, something changes. You laugh. You love. You look at a clear bright day with a sense of relief and endless gratitude. When you are living in destitution of Sub-Saharan Africa, you look at each day with hope for the new technologies beginning to arise to improve life, like hydropower. Shoes and purses and pizza and soccer games and houses have no meaning here. Death is a daily occurrence, as are tyranny and starvation, but people connect, rather than isolate. Look to the past and our horrific practice of slavery in this country. Some of the best music was born from the worst possible conditions.
Why bring this up? Because this morning I felt the monster of stress, as big as anyone facing starvation or tyranny, simply over today's "laundry list" and while sipping a Trader Joe's cup of chai tea. Ha! A subtle consideration of the world, my relationship to it, and a shift of perspective were needed to enjoy this enormously phenomenal and beautiful day.
Thanks for being part of it.