Stress

Sunday cafe calm, Siesta Key.
Sunday cafe calm, Siesta Key.

My day job is a night job. My aim is to turn my sales job into my day job, but until my commission check is more than $2500 per month, I need the night job. When I reach my $ threshold, the night job disappears, leaving me with the day job, ie: my sales job.

Is that clear? Good.

Night work is stressful, not least because the body is designed to sleep when the sun’s down. The constant fight against our biology stresses our system, leading, over the long term, to more illness and, eventually, a shorter lifespan.

It’s interesting that my working life has almost all been about shift work. At the airline, the hours where whatever the schedule determined. Not only were we flying at night, but the constant changes of time zone, the east-to-west shuffle, made any kind of circadian stability a dream. Worst of all were the night flights beginning at the time one’s body was ready for bed: departing Honolulu for Sydney, for example, or Singapore to London. Those flights I do not miss one. little. bit.

In terms of stress, my current job is probably on a par with the big piloting gig. Sure, the flying hours were stupid, but there were sufficient days off and enough money to compensate. My job now doesn’t pay at all, and has minimum time off, but requires basically no mental input, and has a nice fixed schedule. The latter makes a lot of difference, but not enough to make me want to continue a second longer than I have to.

Last week I spent the night with a new guy, doing a little “training”. The term is a joke, because the company doesn’t pay the trainer extra, nor train him to train the trainee. And in the end, everyone has to learn by the experience, so in fact, there’s very little actual knowledge being imparted.

The guy, Scott, a forty-something biker-type dude, was maybe the most stressed man I have ever met. His life was a country tune ie: his wife left him, one of his daughters left him, they both took all his money, he wanted so bad to be back in Michigan, etc. Oh, and he had zero cash until the next paycheck (two weeks away) and no cigarettes. Holy Penguins, could it get any worse?

The answer to that of course, is, yes, life can get much worse even than that. From minute to minute though, his main concern was getting cigarettes, which strikes me as an entirely avoidable problem. Indeed, the giant life-stress he was putting himself through was entirely avoidable, by doing what I’m doing, which is to create myself a residual income. Living at the behest of nicotine, an employer, a paycheck or an ex-spouse – these are conditions that need never affect you.

Together, Again.

Downtown Miami, Florida.
Downtown Miami, Florida.

This week’s horror story of the Boston Marathon bombing left me reminded, again, of the fact of evil. Evil does exist, showing itself in sometimes shockingly brazen ways. Killing and maiming innocent children and adults as if those folks were so much chaff in the wind cannot be described as anything but deepest, darkest malevolence.

And yet there is an upside. In Boston it seems as if millions of people suddenly forgot their day-to-day gripes and rose together as one in defiance of the horror. Strangers disregarded their own safety to help the wounded. Neighbors prayed together. Businesses opened their doors to all who needed help. Once again we affirm that our sense of individuality can give way to the needs of community when enough stress is applied. Together, we can overcome.

And we did overcome. The two perps are dead or nearly so, and life will go on. The families of the bereaved and wounder will recover. The regular rhythms of life will return. What’s important is the affirmation of good over evil, even if the price sometimes looks too large to pay.

Law of Attraction

Lido Key at sunrise, Monday.
Lido Key at sunrise, Monday.

You might know what the law of attraction is. I don’t.

What I mean is that I haven’t read the book – there was a book wasn’t there? – and haven’t bothered to investigate. It seems pretty obvious from the phrase, doesn’t it? We attract in our lives whatever we choose to manifest. Gosh, I hope that’s what it means.

The alternative might be that attractive people get all the fun/money/intelligence/health/longevity. Or if people are automatically attracted to you, then all good things will happen. It’s interesting that “attraction” here always means “good stuff”. Surely there are people who are, and attract, bad as well? I think I know this to be true.

Enough of the games. In my chosen new profession, being attractive in the conventional sense is important. Life teaches us that people are drawn to men and women with white teeth, kept hair and quality clothing, which is just the visual side. Add in a welcoming personality and the ability to listen, and you’re already half-way to a sale.

Which explains why I’m not doing much in the sales world just at the moment. I’m getting my “attractiveness” act together, which is overdue. First, some weight needs to be lost. No-one likes a fat bastard. Second, I am upping my exercise regimen because THAT makes you look healthy. Skin and muscle tone and all that. Third, I am overcoming my aversion to hair-stylists. Yep, you read that correctly. I just hate those places, but good hair – of which I have plenty – makes a disproportionate difference. Fourth, I need to get some more interesting clothing.

So all that’s a work in progress. It might seem like I should be doing all these things anyway, and you’re right. Consider that I’m joining a party from which I’ve long been absent.

Dogwoods

Palms, Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.
Palms, Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

Adam Scott won his first Masters’ Golf Championship onĀ  Sunday. Apart from the cachet, the prestige and the $1,400,000.00, he achieved what no Australian before him could, namely, being born downunder and winning this particular four rounds of golf.

Now, I’m not going to make more of this than it is. When a bunch of millionaire pro sports dudes get together to do what they do for a living, someone will win, and most of them will walk away with a check. It is professional sport, after all. However, the abstract hurdle of an Aussie never winning this specific championship was clear for all to see, making the breakthrough even more significant.

It is similar to Roger Bannister’s first sub-minute mile – his surmounting the challenge gave everyone else permission to do so. Funny how these things work.

For a while now, ever since I stopped playing in fact, I’ve seen golf as a nice metaphor for life. It appears as if superior knowledge, skill and native talent is all you need, but really, the physical and procedural part of the game is only a minority. The real test is in the mind. Recovering from unexpected lies, dealing with imperfect technique and maintaining control are way more important than a durable swing, as valuable as that is. Creativity and flexibility in golf, as in life, go a long, long way. And when someone before you shows you it can be done, watch out.

When limits are breached, there is no reason not to go for it.