What Do You Mean I’m Not Calm? I AM Calm
I decided one day that I was a victim of 21st century America and that I needed to calm down. I was tense from worrying about the stock market, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, swine flu, health care reform and my lack of a good first serve in tennis.
I talked to my doctor about this dilemma and he suggested that I take tranquilizers and try to take life as it comes. I talked to the editor of the Islander and she told me to be kind to animals and that this would calm me down.
I talked to my wife and she urged me to take up gardening, fishing and model airplanes, all of which would lower my anxiety levels and make me more manageable instead of the growling, surly, whining hulk I’d become. She also urged me not to live and die with the outcome of Yankees play off games.
I talked to the bartender at Doc Ford’s and he told me to have three margaritas before dinner and get into karaoke singing. I talked to an island health food specialist and she told me to swallow supplements consisting of bee pollen, beaver fur and red algae and recite my mantra six times a day.
I paid close attention to all of these people and tried out all their suggestions. I should have written them down because I got somewhat confused along the way. I started drinking margaritas before breakfast, watched Phillies games instead of the Yankees, tried to pet alligators and did karaoke singing at Bailey’s to the consternation and surprise of shoppers and store personnel.
None of the bromides I was given were working. I was still just as cranky and obnoxious as ever. That’s when I decided to have a talk with one of the ladies in Sanibel who teaches yoga as a means to live a more peaceful, calmer life. Here was my conversation with her. To protect her identity I will call her Yoga Lady.
Art: Hello, Yoga Lady. I need your help. I’m desperate. Modern life is doing me in. I can’t cope; I’ve become mean and am a menace to both myself and to Sanibel toll booth collectors. Will yoga help me?
YL: Calm down, Art. You’re the perfect example of how yoga can help you find inner peace and contentment. If you follow my yoga program diligently for six months you will be so at peace with yourself that we’ll have to punch you in the face to get a rise out of you.
Art: But will yoga get rid of my stress, anxiety and help me with my first serve? I’ve tried everything else. I’ve tried tranquilizers, margaritas, being nice to animals, switching to the Phillies, everything. But I’m still swirling inside. It’s modern society and all its problems.
YL: Art, you must calm down. You’re having an anxiety attack just worrying about anxiety attacks. Please sit down and calm yourself. I can help you. I’ve helped people who had worse symptoms than you. I’ve just finished calming down a head smasher. Yes, a head smasher. This man smashed his head on every wall in Sanibel. No matter where he went there were hair and blood marks on walls. Every time his anxiety level went up just a decimeter he would bang his head on any wall he was near and cry out that if only his parents had given him an allowance when he was 10 none of this would be happening now.
Art: Well, I don’t go that far. I hate the sight of blood. My way of dealing with stress is much different. I tend to take walks on the beach and throw sand into my eyes. That way I won’t have to see what’s going on around me. I’ve had to be led back home many times by total strangers.
YL: I can promise you that this sadomasochistic urge will pass once you get in touch with your inner calm and center of gravity. Yoga is replenishing and it will exorcise your demons. All of us have inner demons that are waiting to destroy us. You’re no exception. Join us in yoga and you will be healed.
I decided to think about it. Then I went home and watched the news on TV. I got so agitated from what was going on in the world that I devoured four bars of dark chocolate, yet another home remedy someone had given to me to regain my mental health. I decided to try yoga. What it did for me and how it helped me is a story for another day.