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Neo

I grew up in Miami, actually the part of the county unfashionably called “unincorporated Dade”. The area has been renamed and redistricted but in my childhood, the graft paper planned outskirts of the county was a patchwork of cinderblock tract house neighborhoods. The cookie cutter houses were built upon dirt once plowed and planted with pole beans and tomatoes. The agricultural part of south Florida gave way to blue collar and first generation white collar families relocated from other states. I had more of a Brooklyn accent than my parents native Southern tongue, the mash up making me sound like I am from Michigan, so I am told.

Most afternoons from the late spring through summer, the western horizon transformed from a cerulian blue with cottonball tumbleweeds to a thick churning wall of thunderheads. Preceeding those ominous clouds came lightening strikes. The most dangerous part of thunderstorms is the one mile pushed in front of the storm line, the clear blue sky that prickles with ozone and gives birth to lethal lightening strikes. Many deaths of golfers trying to wedge out one last hole literally blown off their feet long before the first fat drop of rain falls. High school football players get caught in the static electricity on practice fields smited in a crowd of their teammates.

Many mornings, after dropping off my second son at his school, I call my sister.  We chat about the upcoming day. What’s on deck? What’s in the pipeline. The daily litmus tests help us assess the stress factor. I wish my Simple IRA compounded interest the way stress self-replicates. And on a dime, the pendulum swiftly swings the opposite direction. Some mornings, the outlook shimmers brightly. Like the later afternoon thunderheads of my childhood, that outlook clouds over in a matter of hours and we can be standing in a torrential downpour, seeking safe shelter from lightening strikes.

I said to my sister a few weeks ago, “Can we keep complaining about this as stress if it’s baseline?” Stress should be above and beyond what we can logically or structurally handle and since we KEEP managing and dealing and juggling…..THIS is baseline and can’t be called stress, right? Does it help to re-calibrate? Does it help psychologically to not frame every freakin’ day as stressful and over-scheduled? If this is just what I do, and seem to keep doing with consistent efficiency, then how is that stress? I suppose a high performance vehicle gets to complain if forced to apply restrictor plates and perpetually drive in the far right hand lane in rush hour traffic. If I am built for this stress, then let me have at it. Get out of the way and let me open it up. I can’t really do what I am designed and built to do unless you give me ROOM. And THAT is what I’m complaining about. It’s not the stress or the all the stuff that needs to get done. It’s all do-able. I can do it. The stress is the TRACK. It’s all the idiot drivers who can’t manage to drive in a sun shower. They put on their flasher and slow down to 20mph, risking everyone’s safety out of their own fear and incompetence. Get out of the way and let the professionals handle it.

I am recalibrating. I am built for this. I can handle this. I feel like Neo in the Matrix, in my stance before the final fight scene. Come on, let’s see what you got!

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