Under Pressure

I knew full well that this morning’s sunrise wouldn’t disappoint – the air was clear, the skies were clear, the temperature was near perfect. All the ingredients were there and the promise of a glowing sunrise seemed a given.

The cats were fed, coffee made, camera loaded, and all I needed to do was LEAVE ON TIME. But no, I dilly dallied and left about five minutes later than I originally intended. Which, by itself it wouldn’t have been a big deal.

But there is about six lights along the way and they all failed to cooperate, adding another five or six minutes to the drive and then the biggie: a humongous train with several hundred carriages (slight exaggeration) that I had to wait perhaps 10 minutes to pass.

So by the time I even got to within a couple of lights of where the lake was, the wonderful part of the twilight where a band of pink, violet, and gold sat just above the horizon, had evaporated.

I remember sitting at the last light screaming at the idiot in front of me to turn already! I might have even punched my steering wheel in some kind of petulant temper tantrum. But I would probably deny that in court.

So the sky was already golden by the time I jumped out of the car, grabbed my camera from the trunk and started shooting.

Here are a couple of pics and while nice, they aren’t really what I set out to do.

Driving home, still irritated at myself, I began to muse over the whole concept of how we put ourselves under pressure, oftentimes for not even the slightest of reasons.

If you are a professional athlete, putting yourself under pressure can be an effective way of driving yourself to achieve a level of excellence that the rest of us would admire but never even dream of attaining.

So, why do we do it? Is it simply a flaw in our psyche that ultimately just winds us up for no good purpose?

Is it just a vain attempt to exert control over a situation where we generally have little say in, not to mind control of?

Or is it even a method by which we steal away some of our own contentment and happiness?

Personally I am going to choose option three, as growing up in a staunchly catholic Ireland, happiness was ingrained to carry a certain guilt with it. Most things that were seen as sources of personal happiness were deemed as sinful and therefore things to be ashamed of.

Much of the teachings through school at that time was actually to try to get you thinking in an opposite direction … that self-denial and sacrifice were admirable qualities and though most of us never really had anything, we were to remind ourselves that there were millions out there with less. And therefore we should be happy with less ourselves.

How flawed is a childhood that steals your inner desires and makes you feel guilty for anything that might satiate them?

The whole “mea culpe” moment during weekly mass where you vigorously beat yourself three times in the chest because you were a sinner is eerily reminiscent of the holy orders that whip themselves to bleeding as they parade down the street in prayer.

Imagine the stark contrast then in moving to the US, where most kids were over-indulged … given far more than they ever should be and spoiled to the extreme. Taught at an early age that life really does revolve around them and that their own personal happiness is of prime importance.

Such teachings provide the base belief system that immersing yourself in wealth while you step on the poor, wall-out the illegals, and laugh at the under-achievers … that it’s all fine. You deserve it all.

Somewhere in between those two extremes is the real answer. It’s ok to be happy. But we need to care about those less-fortunate than us. We need to enjoy our one life; it’s the only one we are likely to get. But we need to make sure that our enjoyment is not at the cost of that of others, or even the very planet that we live on.

Putting ourselves under pressure to a moderate level is ok. If it drives us forward into being better people and carrying a proper level of responsibility to those we love, to those we share the planet with, and even to the planet itself. Then this is good.

If we are thumping the steering wheels because things didn’t work out exactly as we wanted, because a long train made us wait a little longer. Then that isn’t good.

It’s all about balance … hope your week is a balanced one!

5 thoughts on “Under Pressure”

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