I’m fretting, and I don’t know exactly why. It happens to me every time I get ready to travel. Pato asked me to try to talk it out. In doing so, I said that I stress over forgetting to pack something, immigration issues, checking in on time, making connections, getting time to eat. All of these things seem to glob together to form some huge parasitic amoeba draped over my shoulders and constricting my breathing, heart beat, and synaptic pathways. The only time I begin to relax is when I’m finally sitting at the gate, where I could idle for several hours contented as can be. Having a nice block of relaxation time at the gate is the reason I press myself to be at check-in no less than two hours early.
During the moments of deepest fretting, I stop breathing and tense up. I arrest myself periodically to consciously and slowly exhale a toxic mass of the what used to be oxygen and inhale a deep breath of more vitalizing gas, willing each molecule of air to soothe those of my body. I do this not because I suddenly become conscious of it, but because my physical being demands it like an airplane stalling in the air when forced beyond its vertical capacity.
I don’t get it: I know plenty about meditation, living in the Now, etc., and still I generate this condition. It feels like there is some buried programming whose lines of viral code are embedded in my DNA strands. I’m going to make it a resolution to search it out and obliterate it. Virus scan. But maybe I don’t have to, if I can substitute another routine that simply annuls it. Renders it either non-existent or inert. I need awareness of a functional model for relief.
Oddly, when I think about it, it happens most dramatically on the first leg of a work trip. When traveling abroad on vacation for several weeks, I take happenings as they come, considering them to be part of the adventure. But for work, it’s much like when I snorkel: It takes several minutes of panic before calm settles within me enough to trust the gear, or my use of the gear. When I travel for work, I don’t seem to have the needed amount of time for the inevitable moments of panic to subside and be replaced by calm. That, or “work” involves an alchemical factor that affects travel as the full moon does a werewolf.
For work, I’m always conscious of time, budget, punctuality, etc. These things, by their nature, involve precision and adherence, and adverse consequences if run afoul. Juxtapose that to the form of meditation that I practice, which allows that the world still exist; and that the culture that colors my bones (for you hispanophiles, related to “de hueso colorado”) still apply with its rules and expectations. (Notice the subjective form of the verb.) It is possible to understand that one has timeframes and must work within defined structures without their ruling your mind. You can be conscious of them without being them. Since these things, in and of themselves, do not generate this stress, then it is something within me, some thought-form whose content includes fretting. Is that true?
I’m the type of person who takes great satisfaction in precision and doing good work all by themselves. But beyond satisfaction, there is something about quality work and behavior that I want attributed to me. Something without which I would not be me. At first blush, I might wonder: would I be a different me, and would such a person be someone I’d like to be? At second blush, I might wonder: would the passing of the first me to become another me induce mourning of the former as though a death had occurred? And at third blush, am I reacting to phantasmagoric thought-forms in a delusory type of irrational, desperate self-preservation?
I’m a recent addict to JewelQuest, where you must form loose strategies around the appearance of randomly generated trios of figures. The different boards it presents you contain various types of challenges, which frame the possibilities for the solutions. But it’s the random generation of the content (figures) that adds the potential for despair. After feeding this game hours of my life, I realized that part of the psychology of this game requires one to make the best of what the random produces, taking advantage of the forms and configurations of forms by constantly channeling them toward goals with approximations of strategy.
That’s the me that I want to be when traveling for work: I can be mindful of the structural, procedural, and regulatory strictures and deal with the “random” to accomplish the objectives as closely as possible. In the game, however, you get several lives per board. I never pay attention to them because I am my own measure (when it comes to playing games), using the “lives” as mere mile markers. I’m wondering if I am reacting like, maybe, I have to pay attention to those “lives” in contexts of work. I could get fired — humans don’t recognize or seem to accept that other humans make mistakes or don’t attain the same of some level of competence all the time.
Thankfully, my best friend is also my boss. And not only has he spared my life, he has also saved my life on a number of occasions. But he can be disappointed, and his disappointment qualifies as a “life” for me. Part of my work satisfaction is keeping him happy; part of my friendship satisfaction is enjoying him happy, sad, angry, elated, and in between, all of which are greatly affected by work. It’s an odd type of codependent relationship where we are emotionally and cognitively complete individuals, but it’s a relationship that deepens when the interdependencies are nurtured and maintained. Yet while it does seem that there is a huge intersection of our work and friendship, taking advantage (in the sense of abuse) of [him/the friendship part of the relationship] is not an option. I recoil from a shadow of the thought’s even remotest passing. Would he forgive me if I fouled up something regarding work? Certainly. (And he has.) Indefinitely? Probably not. I would seem to have some valve or something to mitigate the intensity of stress, right? There’s a type of safety net there, but I want to be better than that.
So maybe the next question is: do periodic mistakes a character make? Man, I don’t know. But I think that, generally speaking, any collection of consistent attributes or appearances is how we resolve a person to a personality. I value a certain set of attributes as reflective of a level of consciousness and conscientiousness whose attainment I aspire to, whose agenda I find more evolved than the mundane, and whose practice even virtuous. If I were to let those slack or give them up, I fear a level of devolution where talking about the weather and wondering where the next bar is become both ends of my intellectual spectrum; and I fear a devaluation in terms of who might choose to interact with me.
I remember back when I first entered college, I was still that spiritual being. My mantra when culturally accepted stressors presented themselves was: “Deal with it now, worry about it later” … later never came because dealing with it dealt with the potential of stress and circumvented its ever becoming a factor. I shall reprogram that into me, and begin visualizing everything around me as part of JewelQuest.