Seems like both stress me out
By Jeff Salter
This week’s topic is (basically): Is there an upcoming calendar event that I’m looking forward to… or dreading? As usual, my answers will be all over the place, so bear with me.
For one thing, any adjustment to my post-retirement schedule these days tends to jostle me out of sorts. I like my low-key routine and I prefer staying at home (or very close) — so having to GO or DO or BE somewhere else… tends to stress me. Yes, even if it’s an otherwise (potentially) pleasurable experience awaiting. Part of that is me being a solitary introvert who wants more and more to cocoon as I tack on each additional year. Part of it relates to several health and medical issues, which I don’t care to detail here. Suffice it to say that with my several conditions, it’s far more comfortable for me to be at home in familiar surroundings… than to be gadding about.
But I wasn’t always this way. As a younger, healthier man, I was ready to go and do and be somewhere. I could and would travel… I could and did attend events that required energy, attention, etc. In my work life (and its professional organization), I chaired committees, ran for offices, conducted workshops, worked on conferences, held meetings, scheduled events, etc. I say all that merely to point out that I wasn’t always a boring homebody who didn’t want to be bothered.
Now, to one part of the actual question: Do upcoming events cause me anticipation or dread? Naturally, I dread things like dental appointments, doctor visits, lab work, etc. But even things which would otherwise seem potentially positive – e.g., attending a small party, going out to supper, attending a grandkid’s program at school, etc. – can sometimes stress me out because they’ll place me in unfamiliar surroundings. And with the medical and health issues that tend to dominate my current existence, unfamiliar surroundings are NOT the place to be.
Here’s an example: A few years ago, I made arrangements with my youngest grandchild’s kindergarten teacher to read a story to her class. Not just any story, but a story that I’d write specifically for those kids in that particular class. It was a LOT of work, but I enjoyed writing it. As the weeks rolled by and we got closer to the reading date, of course, I began stressing about it. As each day ticked down, I began to sense more dread. Why? Not because I expected a hostile audience… but simply because of the effort and energy it would require (and that I’d be in those unfamiliar surroundings for those couple of hours). When all was said and done, it turned out very well, I thought. Got terrific response from the teacher, the kids, and even a few parents (who’d received enthusiastic reports from their children). A very successful event — but one which stressed and taxed me considerably… and I was WILDLY glad when it was over.
Let me mention one upcoming event that has me both excited and also stressed with dread. For some half dozen years, I’ve participated in our local library’s Author Event, in which each participating author has a table (or shares a table) and is able to greet interested readers and potential buyers. This is a wonderful event and I’m extremely grateful to our library staff for putting it on each year. Terrific opportunity to meet new readers and (hopefully) sell a few books. So I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Yet, at the same time, I dread it… because it involves so much preparation, so much effort to set-up, and requires so much energy to be pleasant and positive for those few hours. Did you laugh just now? Yeah, it takes a lot of effort and energy for me to be “pleasant”. Just saying. Many people are graced with natural sociability and enthusiasm… but some of us have to dig deep… and then spend a day or two afterwards to re-charge those batteries. So that annual author event is one I look forward to, but also dread. I’m extremely grateful to be allowed to participate, but incredibly pleased when it’s over!
So what upcoming events do I look forward to without any particular stress or dread? Well, for one: book release days. And I have another one of those coming up in early Spring (if not sooner). There’s a lot of positive energy leading up to release day. Sure, it can be exhausting, particularly if the work on edits and galleys was hot and heavy right up to the release date itself. But a book release doesn’t require me to GO anywhere, or DO anything in particular (except promote it via various media), or BE in any uncomfortable surroundings. Win-Win.
I also have an example of a wonderful date that I spent an entire year looking forward to — and the only stress involved was how slowly those 365 days inched by. This was when I was stationed at Thule Air Base, in northwest Greenland, inside the Arctic Circle, a few hundred miles from the North Pole. That remote assignment was for 12 months. On arrival, I took a brand new deck of cards and – each week – mailed one home to my wife. That was our official count-down. By the time I’d gotten through the suits of Spades and Diamonds, I knew I was half way home. It’s an incredible experience being a “short-timer” and watching those final weeks and days S-L-O-W-L-Y creep by… and every military person on an assignment away from home has felt it.
What about YOU? Do any upcoming events excite you, but also stress you out?
[JLS # 470]