Stress isn’t a loud-mouthed villain. Very often you can’t hear its war cry. You just don’t see it coming. Stress can be a cold and calculated sociopath. It won’t catch you in a bear hug and squeeze the life out of you. It waits for you to go to sleep. It climbs into the bed and snuggles up next to you. Then, it whispers sad haiku in your ears to micromanage your dreams. By the time you wake up, it will be gone, along with a part of you that believes that everything is fine
It will even laugh, moan and rejoice with us. And then one fine day, you will wake up, crumbling like a cornered oatmeal cookie. You will find yourself falling into a downward spiral over minor annoyances. The silliest of things will make you snap, crackle and pop.
I have said this before. There’s a distinct possibility that I annoy a lot of the birds that I spot. As much as I love them, I must be stressing them out. But I don’t feel guilty about it when I am photographing them. I am too human to be selfless like that. Once I sit down to write about my experiences, it occurs to me what a creep I am.
Oriental White-Eyes seem to tolerate my nonsense a lot more than the others I have seen. They are beautiful, bespectacled passerine birds that bear the colours of half-eaten shiny apricots. They don’t give a hoot about me being in their vicinity during breakfast time. They go about their business, borrowing honey from flowers, pausing only to see if I dare to do something stupid. In fact, I feel stressed out, thinking about the consequences.
Listen, the tinier the bird –the more likely it is to peck my eye out, okay?
But stress doesn’t work that way. It isn’t the Queen of Hearts. It doesn’t receive any “off with their heads” orders.
For me, it has relied on my incapability to handle accumulated pressure. My persistence in internalizing artificial expectations. It lurks, waiting and hoping that I don’t deal with it. And when left unbandaged, it turns into a bigger wound, growing in size.
At times, I can’t do anything to fight the stress. That is when I am most vulnerable to it. That is also when I scramble to identify the source of it. When I find it, I slap it in the face with a white handkerchief and challenge it to a duel. Sometimes I win. Other times, it gets the better of me.
I don’t want to care about the outcomes. I rather choose to channelize the energy, negative as it may be, and learn how to make more aerodynamic paper planes. Or communicate with good listeners. And I like silence too. The chatter in our lungs can only do that much good when compared to conversations with the stars and the birds.
Don’t let stress bring you down. First, take a step back and understand all the sources causing it. Then, prepare to go to war with each one of them.
All the paper planes
in the world
couldn’t bring him any closer
to feel how it must be
to wake up with wings
and fly out of windows,
impregnating the breeze.