A challenge that has captured the third spot on my top 3 stressors list

I let the little things in life have a disproportionate negative impact on my life. I know it’s dumb and makes no sense. Over the years some normally fun activities have made my top stressor list. In the last 6 months I have added a new one.

Everyone has some activity, event, situation, or person that you get stressed out about. It can be playing a sport you are not good at, public speaking, visiting your in laws out, asking a girl for a date. The stress can come in many forms, from general anxiety to physically getting sick. This is a powerful force. It can even shape our personalities.

Yet many of us constantly seek those situations. I am one of those. A stress junkie. I am always on the lookout for my next fix. I hope the next fix will be my last but it never is.  As soon as I feel the adrenaline of my last fix fade I am ready for the next.

Yet I hate it. Hate and love. So close and so far apart. Like a top spinning you can rotate thru these 2 emotions quickly. The things I love to do also contain an element of the things I hate the most. The longer I look at what it means to truly live your life to the fullest, the more I appreciate life is a dichotomy. There is usually a counter party to every action choice or decision you make.

Now throw in a challenge. A challenge is nothing more than a temporary roadblock on your path in life. It can be physical or mental, visible or invisible, big or small, insurmountable or easy to leap over. I personally like challenges, especially when they are made by myself to myself. Easy you set the rules.

If you can overcome challenges you will usually be a stronger, better person for it. To survive life over a long period of time is a challenge in itself. In fact, it is the ultimate challenge. Challenges also serve as a feedback mechanism to bring you back to reality, if you fall into the trap of being to comfortable in life.

I call this the stability paradox:

  •  Stability breeds instability.
  • And instability breeds stability.

Challenges set by others are another story; you are not initially in control. The dark scary world of the unknown.

6 months ago I was given a challenge by one of my mentors. Do something you had never done before. I initially took that as find a new career choice that I had never done before. Although not easy I would be open to that, if I could still pay the bills. But as hard as that would be it was not what I wanted to do. I search my soul.

There was something I always wanted to do. But was I too old? Or is it a great activity to keep young? Would I have enough time to get good? Or would it turn into a passion and make time irrelevant? Would people make fun of me? Or envy me? Would I need lessons? Or would I be able to learn on my own?

So I picked up my son’s guitar and opened his beginning music book. I started to learn music – notes, cords and some basic songs. I signed up for lessons. I would wake up and play with a cup of coffee by my side. Other days I would tire myself to sleep playing with a beer bottle by my side. I went to a guitar store and bought my own guitar. I love learning guitar, I love playing. I am getting better but I am years away from being good.

I have one problem. My guitar lessons are a challenge that has captured the third spot on my top 3 stressor list. I look forward to going but once there, I hate every second of the 30 minutes I am there. Don’t ask me why. I just hate it. I tense up, stop breathing, feel like I am ready for a heart attack. I cannot focus. I count down the time until it’s over. But I always manage to learn something and commit to comeback and be better the next week.

Unbelievably learning guitar has made me a better teacher. Every week I live in the leaner’s chair and have a better understanding what it’s like to learn an activity for the first time. Unfortunately for those I teach, I have also learned practice makes perfect and the words I can’t do this are only a figment of your mind, chipped away by the function of time and trying, so I have little sympathy for not putting forth a real effort to learn something new.

Maybe that is the real reason I hate my lessons, they take me to a place I have not been for a long time, one of basic steps, learning core concepts, practicing until I am tired , listening to myself and knowing I did something wrong, trying to get better everyday, repeating until I am good. I realize I am just too impatient and hard on myself in the short term, yet exceeding patient and confident in the long term that I can master the guitar. Another of life’s dichotomies.

What is my next challenge?  One idea learning to write songs that mirror the themes of my blogs?

But more importantly what is your challenge that will make your stressor list?

PS My Top 3 Stressors

  1. Getting off chairlift when snowboarding.
  2. First tee off shot in golf when being watched by a group of people.
  3. Guitar lessons.

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Fruit At The Vancouver Public Market a few weeks ago. Vancouver is one of my favorite cities – international,  full of life, in a ideal setting surrounded by the ocean and mountains.

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