Experts say there’s good stress and bad stress; eustress and distress. I’d say there’s one more: Dogstress.
Dogstress is the kind of stress that makes my Pitbull leave my side when my other four beasts come for attention. He returns a moment later, annihilating a stuffed animal or rubber toy. His version of a stress ball.
Free tip Pitbulls have really hard heads. I’ve been on the receiving end of about a million pitty headbutts, and let me tell you, that shit hurts. Not him, of course, he doesn’t even flinch. Just drops his chin, and bulldozes his way into the crowd, chewing on that ball, pissed he has to share.
His stress stresses me.
It wasn’t always this way. It used to be, during my 20s and some of my thirties, I never got stressed. I shrugged off everything. I moved on. Lose a job; oh well. Move to another state; cool. Let people down; at least I tried! Around 32-years-old, I’d say, that all changed. When I looked at the sky I didn’t so much see possibility anymore, I saw a galaxy of wonders I would never reach. And I felt the weight of it all at once; like holding your breath too long underwater.
I hide the change at first. Actually, I hated it. Here I was, the guy everyone counted on. The man who laughed. Always smiling. Considerate. Consistent. I buried the worry and lied about it. When friends noticed, I twisted their helpful nature into accusations and made them a target. But stress is like alcoholism, neither are diseases, but both refuse to be ignored. You can’t deny them away any more than you force yourself to be happy. Have you ever tried that? I have. I’ve actually looked in the mirror and said; “it’s time to be happy. So do it. GO!” Wanna get super pissed off, try ordering yourself around and not listening to yourself when you do.
Things were fine enough; bills got paid, food got cooked and work got done. It was integrity that suffered most. That and honesty, self-worth. I pushed my friends away because I hated being reminded of the me that I wasn’t anymore. Then I filled my days with bullshit. Everything became a number one priority. If I was working, I sure as shit wasn’t thinking about how stressed I was. And how much I was acting like I wasn’t.
Like Picasso, I call this time my blue period. I hope I never enter my black period. Blue’s enough. It’s these years I’m least proud of. Time I’ll never get back. A permanent stain on my soul that will never wipe clean. And because I stayed too long and acted like everything was cool, little bits remain. When it does I run to my nearest chew toy. Something to focus my rage and guilt on. Something to bite and tear at. Something to destroy. I mean it as a joke when I say “I’m great at running the moment,” but it’s the truth. The moment scares the shit out of me. I feel like I don’t deserve it. Like beautiful moments in life are out there for everyone else but me, and if I let myself feel happy, just for a second, misery will show up and surprise me. Peace, then, is the enemy. Not because I don’t want it; I crave it more than anything else, but because of how I feel the moment my peace is taken from me.
Other experts say no one can steal your peace but you. I agree, and I’m a fucking professional when it comes to stealing mine.
There’s a great line in The Avengers when Bruce Banner, about to become Hulk, tells the team how he controls the fury that brings the beast. “I’m always angry,” Banner says. At that moment reality comes flooding in and you realize Hulk is more tragic than heroic. A creature with immense power that can never rest. That must bathe in discord so that he’s never surprised by it.
Still, my Pitbull isn’t tragic. He’s actually more even-temper than most humans I know. He deals with the inevitable better. But how?
Distractions, that’s how. He doesn’t have them. Life, to him, is nothing more than the essentials; eating, shitting, chewing, sleeping and playing. And about two humans. That’s it. If anything else comes up concerning anything else, he’s too busy not giving a fuck to care.
The answer isn’t stressless, the answer is being stressed just enough about the right things and ignoring everything else. The answer is Dogstress. I just wish I was good at it.
I wish I was better at ignoring the hoards who take advantage instead of take part. I wish I wasn’t angry like the Hulk all the time. I wish I could chew my feelings away for a few minutes and be better. I wish the guilt passed along with the years.
I wish things were easy.
Even more experts will tell you that’s weak. That humans really don’t want easy and that we need challenges to help us a grow. Great, but sometimes I don’t want to grow. Sometimes I just don’t want to hurt. Sometimes I don’t want to worry about filling every second with something so I don’t feel nothing. Why does wanting easy feel like such a crime?
Is whatever I’m worried about essential to my well being? If not; fuck it. If it doesn’t concern my friends and family, animals or survival, then it’s not worth my time. Now if I can just remember that the next time.
Bunch's work can also be found at joshbunch.com and other rousing websites that focus on fitness, human overengineering and general awesomeness. If you want him to write something just as stunning for your crowd, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org