The Dissonance of Stress

Today, I’m thinking about stress. What an interesting feeling it is— an external impetus swirling and churning into the way my body functions. The lists and the numbers on Calendars seep into my veins and coat my sweaty hands and my subconscious keeps whispering of things I have to do. A body shouldn’t respond to those things— A body should care about sleep, about eating right, about exercise. Yet my heart is pounding because of a few thousand words that need to be on a page. Words that won’t contribute to my survival. Words given to someone else who doesn’t really care what I wrote. Words that spill out from my fingers moments before the deadline— that I might not even believe in. Yet this inconsequential task marches itself to the front of my brain, turns around to the rest of my thoughts and functions, taps its conductor’s baton and stops everything. First, it sets my breath to a louder, faster tempo. My heart beats in syncopated confusion. Pulses of blood and heat run scales over my body. The task orchestrates an addicting dissonance and raises the volume until it’s all I hear. I search and try to deconstruct the straining instruments, but the noise keeps me from progress, and I am lost. My eyes see sun and light and friends. My lips smile and pucker and chat. But my head only carries the chaos of a pain that constructed itself and refuses to dissolve.

Around me, others dance to their orchestras. Their life soundtrack floats in and out of them just the way they want it to. Around me, others write subtitles to the snapchats of their lives: “Perfect.” “Successful.” “Better.” The orchestras in their heads are rehearsing an immaculate Moonlight Sonata. They blow slow, easy breath through harmonizing flutes. Their heart punctuates complete sentences and deeds done. Their hands are warm, dry, and ready for more. Stress becomes only a life soundtrack that pumps them up for a football game, sustains them through a night of studying, or reminds them to never stop saving the world. Oh, that I could hear what that sounds like.

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