Pressure

I have been conscious of stress ever since I was a kid when they used to call it “pressure.” It took years for my therapists to educate me to call “pressure” “stress,” instead. 
 
But it’s still “pressure” that has always had a strong physical effect on me. It feels like: 
 

• like something pressing on my chest and restricting my movement; or
• like something pushing against my forehead holding me back; or
• like something squeezing my insides and paralyzing me; or
• like something holding my muscles in a long, silent ache.

 
Once I learned the modern word for pressure, I realized it does not come from the outside nearly as powerfully as it does from the inside. And the longer I pursued what I wanted out of life no matter what anybody said and no matter how impossible the voice of pragmatism told me it would be to attain it, the more I became aware of when and how I do it to myself. 
 
In 2001, I had to be hospitalized because I couldn’t control my suicidal thoughts. It was clear to me as I recovered that the constant internal pressure that I was in the habit of keeping myself under would continue to lay traps – worse and worse traps – as I got older if I didn’t let up on the pressure. 
 
I mean it, I really got it. I did not learn this in the hospital – I learned it because I never wanted to have to go back.
 
Now that I am almost a month into retirement and am getting into the habit of not having somebody else’s deadline to meet every day, I realize that “de-stressing” must have been a gradual and continuing process for  a habit for me. And that if I had not been workBlogpost draft – still working on it. 
 
Epiphany. I have been conscious of stress ever since I was a kid when they used to call it pressure. It took years for my therapists to educate me to call “pressure” “stress,” instead. But it’s still pressure and it’s power has always had a strong physical effect on me – like something pressing on my chest and restricting my movement; like something pushing against my forehead holding me back; like something squeezing my insides and paralyzing me; like something holding my muscles in a long silent ache.
 
Once I learned the modern word for pressure, I realized it does not come from the outside nearly as powerfully as it does from the inside. And the longer I pursued what I wanted out of life no matter what anybody said or how impossible the pragmatist in me told me it was going to be to attain it, the more I became aware of when and how I do it to myself. In 2001, I had to be hospitalized because I couldn’t control my suicidal thoughts. It was clear to me as I recovered that the constant internal pressure that I was in the habit of keeping myself under would continue to lay traps, worse and worse traps, as I got older if I didn’t let up. 
 
I mean it, I really got it. I did not learn this in the hospital – I learned it because I never wanted to have to go back.
 
Now that I am almost a month into retirement and am getting into the habit of not having somebody else’s deadline to meet every day, I realize that “de-stressing” must have been a habit of mine for quite a long time without my being aware of it. I realize that if I had not been working on managing my own stress since I got out of the hospital 15 years ago, I would still be tight as a rubber band and probably go to dayjob until the day I died because – because of whatever was always so damned urgent. Something was always urgent. 
 
Everything is urgent and nothing is. I am thinking about this while I wait for the image to appear on my brain that will show me how to stage the area right outside the room where one of the characters in THE BLUE LADY (my current project) is dying. This area outside his sickroom is where his caregiver spends a good part of her day. While I wait for the image to emerge, I go online and check my stats and look for something cool that one of my FB friends hopefully has posted, and watch “Cries and Whispers” (one of the inspirations for my movie) in half hour increments. Suddenly, I am acutely aware that something extremely unpleasant is missing. That is, I am not waiting for any news about my work to arrive in my artist’s Gmail inbox. What a load off my mind that has been for probably 7 or 8 months, NOT waiting for a curator or judge or selection committee to get back to me.
 
I will have to enter THE BLUE LADY in some qualifying competition in order for it to have an IMDb page for the sake of better visibility on Amazon (where I will upload it as soon as it’s done); but I have no intention of shopping it around – that makes me feel like something evil is squeezing my insides. 
 
I have been curated since I was in my twenties. I think that’s enough of that for me. I have been selling art since I was in my thirties. So, for a long time, I have been in the habit of understanding that most people don’t care about my work, some people really hate it and just enough people really like it. That’s my expectations, that’s realistic, and that’s no pressure.
 

THE BLUE LADY, Outtake


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