My Brain on Stress

Sometimes when I’m in a stressful situation or a difficult conversation, I catch myself playing strange little mind games. I’m sure they’re some type of coping mechanism, and hey, they’re a lot healthier than, I don’t know, drinking. (In case I need to clarify this in a public forum, I don’t drink as a coping mechanism.) I might hone in on a pattern, like the fiber striations on my pants, and find myself tracing it with my finger, or I might start creating constellations with the veins in my hand. If I’m holding something in my hands I might start to build something. I’ve been known to create various temporary works of art, for example, with hair bands and my fingers. Yesterday, however, took the cake. I was facing an uncomfortable chat with a glass of water on the table in front of me. The way the light was filtering through the glass created a really intriguing hydro shadow on the table, and after a few minutes of blank staring, I realized I was pondering how I would screw the glass to the table with a power drill.

I went through all the steps in my head. Could I drill through the water? No, bad idea. Drink the rest of the water first. Find the right drill bit. Use one long enough to not have to stick my hand too far down in the glass (because it wouldn’t fit), then start drilling at a moderate tempo. Too slow and the glass would probably crack or make too many shards, too fast and I would risk a sloppy job with a non-perpendicular table-to-screw angle. I couldn’t stop picturing the glass screwed to the table with water in it, the nut sticking out discreetly on the table’s underside, and how the newly inserted screw head would appear in the shadow on the table. It would be like an installation piece, bouncing refracted light through the water across the room, and it would be better than a lava lamp in its organic way.

Perhaps it was a way to literally nail something down in the middle of a lot of “I don’t knows” and other shades of uncertainty, and it was a problem I could solve, unlike the larger conversational task at hand. Maybe it was a distraction, a way to clear my head, in the same way other people use stress balls or white noise. As I was drifting off to sleep last night I thought to myself “Shit, that was kind of weird. You should write about that. Don’t forget to write about that!” As it turns out, I did not forget to write about it. It’s hard to say what’ll happen next time I’m working through something onerous, what other drinkware I will mentally fasten to furniture. Perhaps I’ll move on to sculpture or plumbing. It’s impossible to say.

*Photo credit: Chronon6.97

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