I killed our van. I was driving along at the peak of summer—and also at the peak of rush hour—completely lost. In the middle of crawling traffic, my air conditioner stopped working. I thought it was just bad luck that I was stuck in traffic and my car had no AC, so I did what I often do when things are going wrong: I powered through.
Do you ever feel like you’re unicycling on a tightrope, while juggling five flaming torches and being chased by a tightrope master with a laser gun? I do! Life is balancing and juggling and trying to keep everyone alive, all at the same time, all the time. I’m tired, and I bet you are too.
Stress relief has become a multifaceted, multi-billion-dollar industry. Armies of experts have emerged, dispensing advice of every sort. Some say the key is better time management—reduce stress by doing a better job of juggling everything we need to do. Others say the key is patience—be ambitious, but focus on less daunting short- and mid-range goals. Others tell us to reexamine our priorities from the quality-of-life angle and major on the things that count most. Still others take a more spiritual approach: Relieve stress through yoga, meditation, or other disciplines. Who are we to believe?
What amazed me the first time I saw an oil refinery up close was the intricate maze of pipes. Besides the complexity of it, one wonders how it can all be maintained safely and still be financially viable.
Proper pressure must be kept in every pipe to ensure that the oil flows at just the right rate—not too fast lest it burst the pipes, and not too slow. The designers were clearly ingenious, and it takes an army of experts to maintain and monitor it all.
Most of us are pretty busy people. We usually have more to think about and tend to than we can actually fit into our day. We all want to stay on top of our lives, but for me at least, keeping my priorities straight regarding the many things that I want and need to do can sometimes be a challenge, and my days are usually filled with more than I can fit into them.
I’ve always been an accomplishment-oriented person. I prided myself in knowing what to do, having my to-do list all prioritized, with the most important tasks highlighted, circled, or written in large print. I’d zip around town, stopping here and there, knocking off the “minors” while on my way to accomplish another “major.”
Have you ever had one of those days where it seemed like the world was against you, and where it looked like everything that could go wrong, went wrong? It was February 29, a day that only comes every four years. Looking at a list of things that had fallen on my schedule for that day, it seemed as though the day had been scheming for the past four years to ensure that it would fit four days’ worth of tasks into 24 hours!
I have a six-year-old nephew who loves video games. The other day I was sitting with him while he was playing a racing game on his Wii. The levels were getting progressively more difficult, the speed was faster, and the courses were more hazardous. I could see him becoming more and more stressed—his face was turning red, his hands were getting sweaty, and he couldn’t stay in his seat.