Pressure must drop


Sunday, January 14, 2018

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Tis in ourselves that we are thus

Or thus,

Our bodies are our gardens

To the which our wills are gardeners.

— Shakespeare

'Tis so true. Our bodies are our gardens and we should take utmost care to nurture, water, feed and, most of all, subject them to the least pressure as possible. Pressure, what an ominous word, and one that is not always positive. “Listen, stop pressure me every day.” “That man was under so much pressure that he snapped.”

I recently saw Basil Dawkins' play, Pressure Drop, and honestly, it inspired me to write this piece this week. I will not give away the storyline, but what I will say is that it's comedic drama at its best in all areas of theatre. The script, direction and acting are superb and the theme really is a slice of old-time Jamaican life. It centre around the pressures people go through and how they deal with them.

Family is involved and we all know how some families are like pressure cookers just waiting to explode, as they boil up from time to time. This involves children, parents and even granny, and we all know how miserable grannies can be. One line from the play that struck me was when the father said to his son and his wife, “No way I will let you come and live with me. I'd rather pay your rent for six months to live somewhere else.”

That's how much pressure some children can cause their parents. Pressure, that soon comes to the boil this week, right after these resolute responses to 'Romantic resolutions'.

Hi Tony,

It's much easier said than done when it comes to romantic resolutions. For some strange reason, most of us are trapped in a singular way of life and simply cannot break the cycle. We keep on doing the same thing with tragic regularity, yet hope for a different outcome every time. No wonder they coined a term for it, hopeless romantic.



What you suggest is not easy to achieve, as we are mostly creatures of habit. We may think that we want something different, but usually we fall right back into our comfort zone and settle for what life throws at us. One thing you said that stood out for me was that most people end up with the same type of person over and over again.


It used to be that the normal blood pressure reading for humans was 140 over 90. Well, that used to be so until the experts up north now deem that the new normal is 130 over 80. Now in a flash, everyone who's above that range is instantly hypertensive. “Ah bwoy, yesterday I was normal, but today I have pressure.” High blood pressure is not good and is called the silent killer, as it has no symptoms. It can bring on strokes, heart attacks or aneurisms, where a blood vessel bursts. Just picture a tyre or balloon that has too much pressure…blam, it bursts right open.

So the trick is, keep your pressure low and, make your pressure drop to an optimum level, but not too low of course, as low blood pressure is also not good — it's a delicate balance. Now, I am no doctor, but based on my observation I have concluded that Jamaicans have a very high tolerance for high blood pressure. I have known people who had readings of 240 over 140, which is more than double what's normal, yet they're walking up and down as if nothing is wrong.

I told one such friend, “Man, if you were in the USA you'd be in a hospital strapped to a bed right now.” If they were any other nationality they would have collapsed or had a stroke, but Jamaicans are special that way. But then again, maybe those people were just made differently and defied medical science.

Now, where am I going with this medical musing? Well, it's all about pressure and why it should drop. Pressure buss pipe, they say, and so it does to the human body, so we should do our best to keep it at a healthy level. But how?

The first step is to de-stress and try to take things in stride. Don't sweat the small stuff. Just recently I saw some mentally challenged homeless people walking the streets of the Corporate Area and realised that these were the same people who have been around for decades.

They seemed none the worse for the wear, and even though they were much older, they certainly didn't look it, and appeared to be in good physical health. The men were lean and muscular with shiny, healthy skin. Why? They had not a care in the world, no rent or mortgage to pay, no bills, no time schedule, as they eat when hungry and sleep when they feel like — no stress, no pressure. I even recently saw one happily washing his face with stagnant gutter water.

“There is a certain pleasure found in madness that only madmen know,” said poets Neruda and Dryden. Now, I'm not saying that people should assume the role of mentally challenged individuals, but rather simply take a page out of their no-pressure lives. Just try and effect a little less stress in your lives. Remember, pressure burst pipe.

Back to Basil's play, where the father refused to have his grown children come and live with him as they would make his life a miserable hell and drive him crazy. “After a while unnu would start tell me what I could do and not do in my own house.” He'd rather pay their rent to live elsewhere just for his peace of mind and to prevent his mind going to pieces.

I know that some of you can relate to that scenario, as families can be great at a distance, but let them move in and see the pressure that builds up. It's just like a pressure cooker biding its time, building up before it explodes with volcanic proportions. Sure, you love your granny, but to have her come and live with you can be a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes people put too many things on their minds and stress themselves too much. “Lord Missis, is how come every little thing bother you so much? Yu stress yuself too much.” Life can be challenging and it certainly drives up the stress levels of many people, but there are ways to deal with it. Some people de-stress by smoking legal or questionable substances, others by drinking.

Those give temporary relief from stress and pressure, but ironically they too have their attendant health risks. We all know the perils of excessive smoking and drinking, hypertension and its crosses, that I listed earlier.

One way to ease stress and lower your pressure is physical activity. Simply walking regularly, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, not driving that hundred metres but walking instead, or simply spending time in the garden can reduce your stress level and make your pressure drop.

Some folks go to the gym, and that helps not only physically but mentally as well. Yoga, tai chi and martial arts are great ways to keep pressure at the optimum level. It's more than just kicking and punching, but keeps the mind and body in harmony.

I see too many people make their jobs consume their lives, resulting in their pressure going through the roof. Their work is 24-7 and nothing else matters. When they collapse in a heap from this pressure, their post will be filled within weeks, if not days, and life goes on. When the staff gathers you'll hear, “He was a good man, dedicated to his job. By the way, how did that match go last night, Arsenal win?”

Life goes on. Stress is not good, pressure is not good; pressure must drop. Remember pressure burst pipe. Just observe how people behave on our roads in traffic — flustered, stressed, angry all the time, bewildered, bothered and highly pressured.

As corny as this may sound, take time to smell the roses, spend more time with your genuine friends, don't rush people away who want to talk to you, talk to a child, have some alone time. Pressure must drop.

More time.

Footnote: Speaking of pressure, I must comment on the disgrace that took place on the Palisadoes road on New Year's Day when hundreds of cars and thousands of party-goers selfishly blocked the only road to our international airport, with nary a care in the world. Hundreds of passengers and airline crew were more than inconvenienced. But why should we be surprised? This is simply our new norm and a reflection of what we have become as a people — selfish, uncaring, aggressive and arrogant with no thought for anyone else.

Out of the thousands of people there, not even one single person could have said, “No, this is wrong, we can't block the only road to the airport and Port Royal.” But that is what we have become. I have addressed it before, the terrible driving habits, the children's behaviour in our schools. There is no consequence or accountability for disgraceful behaviour. Well, more to come.




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