It’s easy to get sucked into the New Year resolution thing. It’s the time of year that all your sensitivity points get poked at until you’re too embarrassed to leave your house.
I don’t make resolutions, but I do admit to going through a ritual of taking stock and picking certain areas to either continue to work on or give up and accept as a character flaw — like leaving the last half inch of water in every bottle of Pellegrino. Sorry, but I can’t bring myself to drain the bottle. It makes Dirtman crazy.
I’ve achieved enough progress in several areas of my life to know not to believe it when they say people can’t change. I agree that you can’t change people — unless, of course, you marry them and it turns out that, just as an example, they eat things like boiled cabbage and overdone meat and listen to banjo music. Then you are obligated to change them for their own good – just an example, you understand.
One of my ongoing projects for the past few years is to reduce the adrenaline expenditure in my life. Not easy, because slowing down is one of those things people claim they want to do when actually they’ve made it a status symbol to do otherwise. The entire cell phone industry is built on this fact. I’m surprised our parents managed to usher us into adulthood without the constant yammering communication about scheduling and gossip and rumor and what, in God’s name, is everyone text messaging about?
A lot of people mistake this avoidance of drama as ambivalence, particularly when it comes to family members. Just because a family member needs, say, a white shirt for the evening and, upon examination finds the only one he owns dirty and crumpled at the bottom of his closet where he threw last Halloween, does not mean his mother needs to go into a crisis mode of washing and ironing. While I will be happy to fulfill my role as advisor, this is, in reality, not my problem as said family member has had approximately 95 opportunities since Halloween to have the white shirt laundered and ironed and has, instead, opted to function in crisis mode. I don’t do crisis mode unless I am the precipitator of the crisis, which happens often enough. So Heir 2 looks a little disheveled – I figure with Heir 2 I’m lucky I’ve brought him along this far without having him sustain any broken limbs or major head trauma.
The media is not real supportive of a low-stress lifestyle either.
I wonder how much news would be broadcast each day if the headlines left out all speculation and just reported the facts; no “what if” scenarios that are usually wrong anyway. We would be robbed of insights like: “If it comes down to a choice between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Democrats will have to decide if they want an African American or a female president.” Well . . .yeah. (I’d tell you who said that, but I overheard it on a TV running in another room. But I find most of the speculation to be just as insipid.)
In fact, I’m skeptical of most “news” because, inevitably, someone is making money passing off ‘whatever’ as a crisis. This is especially true for all those pressing health alerts that have us convinced some disease or other is an inevitable part of living, coincidentally based on a study funded by the very pharmaceutical corporation that is providing the cure. And as the field becomes more and more crowded, the symptoms seem to get more vague and universal, especially my favorite symptom of all: fatigue.
Ironically, a very common cause of fatigue – even more common than the myriad of disorders or syndromes – is when your body is coming down from an adrenaline rush.
So, while so far it’s been impossible to completely wean myself off artificial adrenaline triggers, I will continue in my vigilance to weed them out of my life. For instance – and this is just between you and me – while I was writing this piece, I stopped five times to play Spider Solitaire. When Dirtman comes into my office to see what I’m up to, I tell him that this helps me think. But, no. There is nothing like the feeling of triumph when I hear those cards zip and I’ve cleared the screen. The triumph is so easy and accessible and when I fail, it’s comfortingly private. A nice little wash of adrenaline and I’m happily typing away, having gotten my fix.
But I can quit anytime. Just anytime. Tomorrow. I’ll stop tomorrow.