What an odd thing it is to be alive. The human body is so complex. Have you seen Gunther von Hagen’s Body Worlds? Here you see the internal machinery of the human body. What a complex design.
Joseph Campbell, the famed mythologist, says that what we do not experience as bliss, we will experience as anxiety.
Stress is anxiety’s great symptom.
Everything around us is in a constant state of change, including our bodies. Stress has a physical, emotional and psychological effect on the body. Like a car, when the body is pushed too far, things start to malfunction. Parts start to wear out.
Sometimes stress becomes so much, things become unmanageable, even unbearable. When this happens, one must adapt or burnout will start to come. It may be time to hit the life change button.
Simple tasks previously disposed of neatly and quickly before, are now impossibly heavy to deal with. “Escape! Run! Flee this place!”, your mind is telling you. If your nerves could pop out of your skin, they would.
Stress is a necessary response in our bodies, which puts us in a state of “fight or flight”. This helps us wrestle an alligator, if need be or, better yet, run from one. We gain a boost of adrenaline and this adrenaline enables us to perform at a much higher, more alert ability of functioning. Your blood pressure increases. Your mind thinks more sharply and your senses are more alert. Adrenaline is a rush. It is the state of mind of high stakes poker.
However, if you stay in this state for too long, you can exhaust your adrenal gland, which produces this chemical high. When this happens, burnout is just around the corner.
Sometimes such prolonged states of stress can serve as a voice. This voice could be sending any number of messages. It could be saying, “Slow down. Your body cannot sustain this”. It might say, “What you are doing is not what you want to do”. It might be a voice that is signaling that a change is underway in you and like a snake, you are slowly shedding your skin. Sometimes it sends you a message to get the hell out of where you are, what you are doing. Press eject. Hit the life change button!
Sometimes opportunities come from sliding down the exit ramp.
Opportunities, if given appropriate space, will come. Like a patch of well-nourished, fertile soil that is bare, if conditions are right, something will grow there, in time.
Though it is important to recognize that every journey has its obstacles to face and that all heroes go through the dark forest, are swallowed by the belly of the beast. Sometimes perseverance is the name of the game and the stresses only like storm clouds, angry and threatening as they are, passing through the sky.
Snakes shed their skin and trees their leaves. The world’s a-change and so are we.
Jim Hart lives in Oslo, Norway and is the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway.