Under The Pressure

Yesterday morning I was driving my three-year-old to nursery, taking a road that winds up through farmers’ fields. For a mile or two we were flanked by sheep-filled greenery, our presence being the only visible sign of human life. The wind rocked the trees violently, birds hung strewn in the air, caught on the stiff breezes that elevated them far above us. My eyes kept returning to the sheep. One knelt forwards on its front legs, positioning itself strategically in order to be able to eat more comfortably. A magpie perched on its back. Dotted about, absorbed in their single pursuit of consuming the grass, the sheep were completely oblivious to us, unaware of a world beyond their immediate one.

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And so I began to think about the vast gulf between the sheep’s existence and our own, one that is infinitely more confusing, busy and chaotic. Much of the pressure we feel encumbered by is self-created, and I’ve been on a small mission over the last couple of years to disencumber myself as much as possible. Someone said to me recently that if you strip away all the bullshit, basically what we are about is waking up each day and feeding ourselves (and any dependents) three times, before going back to bed. A very simplistic description of the human experience but really, one that is true. All the additional layers that we weave in are not essential to our survival, but rather are there because we have achieved the basics and so have free time and energy to devote to complicating things (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).

Some of these complications, the additional extras, are nice. Holidays, for example, or meeting up with friends, indulging in a hobby or wandering around an art gallery. But lots of the tasks and activities that we set ourselves each day just cause us huge amounts of unnecessary stress, resulting in us bombing around like headless chickens in a desperate attempt to tick off everything we set out to do when we woke up.

The reason I’m writing this in a blog about my sober life is because when you add in all the needless, supplementary elements to modern life, you inevitably put yourself under stress. And when you do that, you tend to seek out relief. For many people, that relief comes in the shape of a bottle. A major part of my success in staying sober for (almost) five years is that I work hard at maintaining as stress-free a life as I possibly can. Sometimes life should just be about waking up, feeding yourself three times and then going back to bed.

It feels good to strip back the layers of complication and make things easy on yourself. Whether that’s making a change to your job, slowing down in your efforts to achieve perfection in everything, or not saying yes to every social invitation that comes your way, there are amendments we can all make to simplify our existence. Maybe not quite to the baseline of sheep, but a step back from the mayhem of the typical twenty-first century human experience can only be a good thing.

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10 thoughts on “Under The Pressure

  1. Phoenix @ shadowashspirtflame.wordpress.com says:

    I totally understand. I’ve found that for most of the second year of my sobriety I focused on de-stressing my life: I found creative outlets that help me balance my life, I consumed more nutritious foods and had more energy and better moods, I strengthened relationships I could and ended those that were not adding to my life. I changed jobs! 🙂
    You are so right though, and I love the way your mind works in finding stories. Thank you.

  2. January 8th will be my one month anniversary. Sometimes I ask myself? Can you do this? I have no choice.. I received my 4th DWI back in September of 2014 and the beginning of January 2016 I finally got sentenced. 6 month of jail being served intermittently due to the fact that I have managed to keep my employment of 13 years, and I am have to care for my mother who is end stage renal disease (because of her drinking) and had 2 strokes. In the meantime my license is revoked for 1 year; IF Department of Motor Vehicles will even consider giving my license back. Interlock device in my mother’s vehicle and probation for 5 years. I am blessed that the judge didn’t throw the key.
    I think about I did this to myself; it could get much worse as each day I take as a way of looking at this as my 5 YEAR PLAN. I want to work on being a better person without alcohol and live my life to know that sometimes things happen to make us wake up. Alcohol is deep in my family. 3 of my mother’s siblings have past because of alcohol. I need to break this cycle not only for me but my 19 year old daughter. I want to be a better mother to her.
    UNDER PRESSURE???-PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS. I lived in bars!!!! Now I have to find something to do. I will pray for all. IT’S THERE IF YOU WANT IT!!! I WANT IT!!! My Goodbye Letter to my Wine:

    MY GOODBYE LETTER TO MERLOT
    I started sipping on you; gradually I starting drinking you, THEN I started gulping you. You are a problem for me and I must put the cork in your bottle and say goodbye. Stay RED and beautiful as your tangents glistens and hug the glass as every sip I take I can see your legs slide down the glass waiting for my lips to meet the glass so I can take another sip. I abused you so now I have to let you go. We have had some good times but I can’t handle you as drinking you get me in trouble. GOODBYE!!
    January 8th will be my one month anniversary. Sometimes I ask myself? Can you do this? I have no choice.. I received my 4th DWI back in September of 2014 and the beginning of January 2016 I finally got sentenced. 6 month of jail being served intermittently due to the fact that I have managed to keep my employment of 13 years, and I am have to care for my mother who is end stage renal disease (because of her drinking) and had 2 strokes. In the meantime my license is revoked for 1 year; IF Department of Motor Vehicles will even consider giving my license back. Interlock device in my mother’s vehicle and probation for 5 years. I am blessed that the judge didn’t throw the key.
    I think about I did this to myself; it could get much worse as each day I take as a way of looking at this as my 5 YEAR PLAN. I want to work on being a better person without alcohol and live my life to know that sometimes things happen to make us wake up. Alcohol is deep in my family. 3 of my mother’s siblings have past because of alcohol. I need to break this cycle not only for me but my 19 year old daughter. I want to be a better mother to her.
    UNDER PRESSURE???-PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS. I lived in bars!!!! Now I have to find something to do. I will pray for all. IT’S THERE IF YOU WANT IT!!! I WANT IT!!!

  3. Life is full of adventures, discoveries and joy in the little things, we just have to look closely! – I leave you with this quote “One Today is Worth Two Tomorrows” – Ben Franklin 🙂

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