In praise of pressure

vice holding blockSome folks love weighted blankets. I’m a fan of lying under heavy-heavy blankets, myself. And I look forward to the summer, when I can have my air conditioner on full-blast and cover myself with lots of layers. It helps me sleep. Ironically, I can’t do it in the winter, because the heat is up in the house, and I have to use fewer blankets. I just can’t bring myself to run the A/C in wintertime. There’s something very wrong about that idea, in my head.

Some folks love the feel of a firm squeeze. Temple Grandin, for one. Plenty of others, too. Getting a monster hug does some autistic folks a lot of good. Me? I’m on the fence about it.

The pressure I prefer is of the existential type. Having more to do, than I have time for. Having higher expectations of myself than are realistic. Demanding more of myself, than most “reasonable” people would even think to require. Setting impossibly high standards for myself, then pushing myself to live up to it — regardless of my apparent abilities or human capabilities.

I put all kinds of pressure on myself on a regular basis. And it does me good. Most people get a little concerned, when they hear about everything I’ve got going on — which is why I don’t tell many people about everything I’ve got “cookin’ on the back burners” of my proverbial mental cooker. I don’t tell most folks about all the activities I’m involved in — volunteer activities, town government meetings, multiple creative ventures, a variety of in-depth studies that have been going on for decades, a handful of blogs, a whole lot of web domains I manage, various stuff I help others with, events I help produce, and so on.

Yeah, it’s a lot. Looking at it all laid out in linear fashion, it looks huge. But when you overlay everything with everything else, in 3D (or 4D/5D), it all fits nicely. A neatly packed, snug package that is my life.

It’s all so much a part of me, so much a part of my life and my daily flow, I just don’t know what I’d do without all those activities. I pick up one thing, and I love it. Then I pick up something else, and I love that, too. Why not do them both? Why indeed? So, I do. And a few years go by, and I pick up something else. And do that, too. I don’t drop the other things… just keep going with what I’ve already got. And it adds. It builds. The pressure mounts.

Which is how I like it. I swim in such a vast sea of sensory inputs — physical, emotional, mental, psychic — that if I didn’t have a Specific Point Of Focus in my life, I’d spin out. Seriously, I’d lose my coherence, and I’d lose my cool.

person jumping into focus
The pressure helps me focus – otherwise, I live in a blur

All the world is a blur for me, if I’m not focused on a specific point(s) in my life. A specific goal. An intended outcome. It doesn’t matter if that outcome is impossibly out-of-reach. I have to make the jump. I have to push myself. I have to extend myself. I have to leap into the gap, to see if I’ll make it.

Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I fall short. I often do, in fact. And I’ve learned to come to terms with my shortcomings, my short-falls. Because they’re the inevitable outcome of so many of my over-reaches. The over-reaches that save me. That make life worth living for me. The pressure that thins the thicket of static that’s always around me, no matter what.

I’d never want to get rid of the static. I’d never want to leave the thicket. Many people have encouraged me to “relax” and “not rush”. Okay, okay. Fine. I’ll pretend to not push myself. I’ll pretend to not care with all my body and mind and heart and soul, whether or not things go exactly the way I want them to. I do a great impression of that, even while on the inside I’m pushing and pulling and fretting and vexing myself over every single detail. I need that push-pull-fret-vex mix. It keeps me focused. It keeps me steady.

The times when I am most unsettled, are when I can’t get that pressure. When I’m just settling in for an even-keeled haul, pacing myself, chilling out. Those times, like when I’m just hanging out with my partner, talking about the day, relaxing and keeping “my energy” mellow for her sake, before long, I feel like I’m coming out of my skin. Because I’m open. To everything. Every last little stimulus, every last little piece o’ static that’s flying by. Like dust floating by one of those electrical air cleaners that attracts all the particulates to its surface, and it has to be washed off on a regular basis. That’s the stuff you’d normally be breathing in. Oh, for heaven’s sake… Ick. Disgusting.

That’s me — an electrical environmental cleaner, attracting every piece of floating ambient minutiae to my system, till it gets glommed up with all the static. All the detritus. All the emotional “off-gassing” from my surroundings.

People just do NOT take very good care of their emotional health, lemme tell you.

And I pick up on it all. Unfortunately. Especially from those close to me — like my family. Like my partner. Like the people I work with. They love having me around them, because I clean their environment. I pick up on all their static, glom it onto my system, and they feel so much better when I’m done interacting with them.

Never mind how I feel. That’s not part of their equation. Because they aren’t aware of what an emotional trash fire their lives are, anyway.

Yeah, it builds up. And unless I can get my Daily Dose of pressure to block it all out, it blocks me up.

That’s where intense exercise comes in. If I don’t physically push myself, first thing in the morning, every single day, I pay for it. By noon, I’m an emotional wreck.

That’s where overloading my daily schedule comes in. If I have too much time and energy on my hands, I start to notice things that have nothing to do with me, but I pick up, regardless.

That’s where the unrealistic expectations and over-ambitious undertakings have their greatest value. It focuses me — fanatically — on my Primary Purpose. It lets me build fantastic castles in my mind, looking towards an amazingly glorious set of achievements that only I know about, that only I will ever fully appreciate, and which nobody else in their right mind would even entertain pursuing.

In blocking out everything that has Nothing To Do With My Own Ambitions And Goals, I cut down on the energy I have available to spare on other people’s superfluous “stuff”. I get to focus my attention on myself, instead of being drawn into everyone else’s self-created dramas that are there for entertainment purposes, only. I get to Live, not die the slow death of imagined dramas, slights, insults, barriers that everybody else seems to prize and live on, as though they were oxygen itself.

That slow death is its own sort of pressure, I suppose. People need it. They crave it. It jacks up their adrenaline and helps them block out the distractions of life. It pumps them up and makes them feel more alert. And I can understand that. The thing is, those dramas, slights, insults, and barriers are theirs, not mine. They have nothing to do with me, and I can’t be dragged down into them. I’m too busy getting my own dose of pressure — the never-ending squeeze of pushing a wider vision of life through the narrow gap of what everybody else thinks is possible.

Give me my pressure. Give me my possibilities. Life is waiting. And I haven’t got time for the static.

Not today.

Not ever.

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8 thoughts on “In praise of pressure

  1. Curious. I never really thought about it, but I do keep my plate full with many different things and always have. Part of my struggle these past couple of years has been that I have less “kid stuff” to do. The needs of parents have taken over some of that. But I’m still trying to restructure. I never even thought to wonder why I get involved in so much. It’s just what I do. Even when I’m sitting quietly, I tend to have several things I’m working on running through my head.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Yes, even when “at rest”, I’m in motion. At least, my mind is. Just the other day, my partner got irritated with me for not being able to sit still… until she realized that I was cleaning out the messy car to chill myself out. Then, it was just fine 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “Ironically, I can’t do it in the winter, because the heat is up in the house, and I have to use fewer blankets. I just can’t bring myself to run the A/C in wintertime.”

    Why don’t you turn the thermostat down in the winter so it’s cool enough for all your blankets? Or turn the heat off in one room (by closing the heat ducts if necessary) for you and your blankets?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      I can’t turn the thermostat down, because it’s in my partner’s bedroom, and her room is larger than mine. So, if I turn it down to where it’s comfortable for me, she freezes… I do close all the heat ducts, but it still warms up.

      Oh, well.

      Liked by 1 person

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