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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stress And The Modern Man

Ahhh… stress… I may not show it on the outside, and only perspire when it's hot, but like most people on the planet I am affected by it.

This past September 15 was a somewhat stressful day for me, even though it really had nothing to do with me.

My wife went in for surgery to have her gall bladder removed - it went without a hitch. And even without a stitch.

It was also the 20th anniversary of my mother's death.

And, it was Noboko's birthday - my ex from Japan that I still write about when I can muster up the courage. I bet she still looks hot.

My wife, who was quite nervous about the operation, did not, of course, need to hear about the other two things, which would surely have set off a spiraling descent into crap for myself. Okay, one of those two things would have caused crap for me, so I wisely kept my mouth shut… thing is… it wasn't like I could talk about this stuff to anyone, anyways.

I thought I could, but turns out I couldn't. People have their own baggage to haul, I suppose… though I've been a Red Cap porter hauling baggage for a lot of people… so much so that I think most people tend to think that I never get bothered by stuff.

I'm usually pretty even tempered and usually seek out ways to diffuse spiraling situations - except when it relates to myself.

I used to really let things bother me when I was a lot younger, but I've learned not to panic when all else is going down the tubes.

I actually learned that while I was in Japan. Or perhaps, rather, I learned it because I was in Japan.

Regular readers will know that going to Japan in 1990 was my first time away from home... as in the first time I had ever left the nest.

Yeah, I know that many of you had done so when you were 18 - couldn't wait to leave... but I didn't, going to a local university. Besides, I got along with my parents and they with me. I was also quite lazy and afraid of having to grow up.

Applying for and being accepted into the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme really through a monkey-wrench into my whole plan of being a 'professional' student. I had never really expected to be accepted in, and truthfully didn't want to go.

But, for some reason... I took it as a challenge... and from then on, I never walked away from... always getting what I want - eventually.

Well... sort of.

In Japan... those first few months I was on a high.

Everything was new and exciting... new life on my own. New culture. No country. New language. New girlfriend.

Seems to me the only thing that really screwed me up was my new girlfriend. I have my own memories and version of things and I have written about it here, but to be fair, it is based on how I viewed things... not on how others viewed me.

Still... it was a fun and painful time.

One of those people who took pity on me was a fellow JET AET (assistant English teacher) named Nick Strachan, who actually lived about two kilometers north of me in Toronto, though we had not met before.

Nick was very British, but still Canadian, and he appeared very worldly to me. I always liked Nick, or as I called him Nicholas, but I'll always be grateful for that one piece of advice he gave me in my first year in Japan.

In a telephone call, he told me in two minutes about Zen Buddhism, and for some reason, the following statement really resonated with me.

"The past is the past. You can't touch it, taste it or feel it. It's gone.
There's the future, but it hasn't happened yet.
All you really have is the present. Waste it not."

I'm paraphrasing it - it was 24 years ago, but Nicholas, perhaps inadvertently or advertently (why isn't that a word?) told me that once, and I remembered it.

I thought enough of it to follow the advice, but not enough to join the Buddhist philosophy - I'd never join any club that would have me as a member - a famous quote from Groucho Marx - that certainly holds true for me.

Still, from time to time, I do think about a lot of could-have-beens, should-have-beens, could-still-be's and never-was', and being a very imaginative sort, I can color those thoughts any which way I want.

Perhaps I wouldn't if I was a member of the club, but I'm not.

Regardless... it helped - even a bit - with getting my life in order.

Part 2: The biggest thing that bothers me in my life today, is my son not getting a chance to know my mother, his grandmother.

Oh she would have loved the little guy.

I suppose what worries me now is knowing that in five years time, I'll be as old as she was when she died.

When she traveled out to visit me in Japan back in 1993, she made an impression on everyone she met, because she was so positive and happy and curious and helpful.

Those are things that she imparted on myself, though since I sometimes have self-doubt, I wonder if she did, too and how she handled it? Probably the same way I usually do - just smile and wave.

The blog is my outlet, I suppose, but it doesn't really reflect my mood - just usually a commentary on whatever I happen to spot first while cruising the 'Net.

I'm writing this on Tuesday, September 16 -  at lunch, in case anyone from work is reading this - and tonight I have a baseball game and soccer game to coach or watch over… my son only plays baseball this year.

Since my wife is still somewhat incapacitated - somewhat - I'll race home, feed the boy, run him to baseball, drive to soccer, coach the game and then race back to baseball to watch the end of the game. It's play-off ramifications for both, so I'm anxious for both teams, hoping they will do well.

(Ugh.... lost the soccer and baseball games.)

Back when I was a kid, I earned a trophy every year I played soccer—and that was waaaaaay before every kid got one just for participating. My teams had to earn the trophy, medals and plaques.

As such, it would mean more to me if my son earned a trophy rather than just got one because I enrolled him in a sport.

On the plus side, Hudson is trying out for a Select baseball team at the Bloordale Baseball League, where All-Star MLB player Joey Votto graduated from.

He may not make it, of course, but at least everyone seems to know who he is… and for once it's not because of his loud-mouth gregarious dad who's out chatting up everyone.

What's any of this go to do with Japan? Nothing. Everything. Sometimes it helps to know where your head is at.

We'll be back to our regularly scheduled blog next day. You know I haven't taken a day off from writing since February 14, 2011. It was probably a significant reason for me back then… oh wait… yeah, now I remember… yeah… I recall now…

But even though I was only doing several blog's a week before that, I decided that I would, come hell or high water - and there was a lot of both - that I would keep my sanity by writing.

I'm not sure if it worked, but I am still writing.

Did I mention that I either have my seasonal allergies bothering me now, or I have a cold, or I have both going on.

Stressful? Sure… Stressed? Strangely, I feel better after having written this.

Somewhere in Wonderland,

Andrew Joseph


  1. Alice sent a hug on the 15th, hope you got it.

    1. I thought that's what it was wrapped around me! So it wasn't a heart attack! LOL!
      Thank-you, Alice. All good. I handle my stress better than most, not as good as some.

  2. Not sure if your a hugging guy, plus it might look weird doing it at work, but I'll give you a hug through this comment.

    1. Good enough, my friend! Though... I'd rather get a hug from Alice. I'm sure, to incorrectly quote Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners, it would be: Pow! Zoom! To the Moon, Alice.