Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The stress of not knowing

Sunday evening, my daughter texted me the news that there was no hot water at home.    Hmmm …. I thought … that’s unusual.  I got home late, called the maintenance office and was told that a main had burst.  “Call back tomorrow morning to find out what’s happening”.


Monday morning dawned, and so did I, intent on getting a great start to the week.    A few hours later, my son bounded downstairs with the news that “the water has gone”.


In our previous life in Jamaica, “the water has gone” would barely register a response, for it happens there with regularity.  After almost two years of living in Canada, however, we have become used to having water 24/7, plus 3 days notice for lock offs for maintenance.  This news was not greeted well.  I called the maintenance office and got a long voicemail detailing opening hours, call options, what to do if you are a tenant, what to do if you want to lease – everything except the status of the water supply.  I left an urgent message.  And waited.  After ½ hour no one had returned my call.  My children stood looking at me, waiting for mummy to fix this one so they could shower and get started on their day.  I called the maintenance office again: voicemail.  And my children continued to wait for supermom to jump into action and get the water flowing!  Supermom, meanwhile, was in quite a huff and puff, her carefully planned day turned upside down.


Plan B: I sent an e-mail to the maintenance office “URGENT!  I need to know what’s happening!  I can’t understand if I don’t know!”


Plan C: I took a walk outside and found a maintenance crew working on the broken main.  “How soon” I asked.  “Hopefully before 6.00 o’clock.  We are sorry, but it’s really a bad problem” came the response.


I now knew.  I now understood.  And so I returned home, saw my now confident children off to their activities (supermom may not have fixed the problem, but she sure brought some clarity), walked the dogs and then …. went shopping!


Not knowing is indeed one of the big stressors in our lives.  We don’t know if we are getting the job; we don’t know if the person we love will marry us; we don’t know if we will recover from our illness; we don’t know if we will wake up tomorrow; we don’t know if our jobs are secure; we don’t know if a natural disaster will strike us this year; we don’t know …… so many things we don’t know.  So many things to cause us stress.  I mean, if not knowing what’s happening with the water supply can get my stress level up, can you imagine what those bigger unknowns do?


Do we know anything?  Or are we doomed to live our lives in chasms of uncertainty?  I don’t think so.  For there IS one thing we know – that nothing lasts forever.


When the water went, why was I worried?  Nothing lasts forever … the water will come back.  Knowing this, I could have chosen to continue with my plans for the day, without missing a beat and declaring: “This will not last forever children; the water will soon return”.  What a difference that would have made to my stress level and my day.  I would not have wasted an hour stressing over the absence of water; I would have completed my list of things to do and I would not have escaped the stress by going shopping!


But then again I wouldn’t have gotten that perfect pair of jeans that fit like icing on a cake – on sale 50% off!


If you live in Jamaica, and would like to learn how to cope with the stressors in your life, then come to my “Stress-free and Laughing” workshop on Saturday July 9 at Afya – call 876-977-6735 for details


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