Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Too Close For... – Erich

There's a saying: Too Close For Comfort. Yeah, forget comfort. Let's talk sanity.

Our family is taking an AP Psychology class through a MOOC (a Massive Open Online Course). Early in the course, we learned about our nervous system and its many subdivisions. And one of those is the sympathetic nervous system. It is this system that responds to perceived threats to increase your blood pressure, release adrenaline, dilate pupils, etc. It creates the fight or flight response.

But these days most people have it activated not by a predator jumping out at them, but rather by stress. It's part of why too much stress isn't so healthy for you.

Today, I am in Tasmania. It is an island off the southern coast of Australia across the Bass Strait. Part of being here today is that yesterday I traveled to get here.

Travel days, as I have mentioned before, are always stressful. But I've gotten much better on this trip at not getting so stressed. Except, really when I have made such a claim, I have been referring to after our arrival in the new place. Ever since our arrival in Budapest, I have found it just not a big deal to be in a place I know nothing about.

This doesn't mean I have transcended the stress though. It's still there, it is just in the getting to everything travel related. Yesterday was a very getting to it day.

First we had to take a train. We had to drive 45 minutes to get to the train station and we made that train with about 2 minutes to spare. I stayed reasonably calm there, because even if I had missed that train, I could have taken one an hour later.

We took the train into Melbourne and had some lunch at the train station. If I had been smart, at that juncture, with plenty of time to spare, I should have insisted we continue toward the airport. See, the next step is to take a bus that goes from downtown Melbourne to the airport.

But we didn't do that right away. Instead, we decided to explore a bit of downtown Melbourne. They have a cool tram system, and in certain zones it is free to ride. So we rode (with all of our backpacks) to the end of the line, by the harbor. There was a nice playground here. But then, there were no trams back.

Okay, there were, but we had to wait quite some time to get to them. By the time we got one and got back to near where the bus was, it was approaching rush hour. The sidewalks were crammed with people. So it was slow going to the bus station.

We managed to catch the bus we needed, but by now we didn't have a lot of time to spare. And traffic was, well, rush hour traffic. So it wasn't a quick trip to the airport.

We did arrive there and get our luggage (the two big backpacks) checked in with four minutes to spare. Then we reached the gate after they had begun boarding.

Every step of the way was a close call. Every step of the way, we had to make it with mere minutes to spare. And then the rest of the day was ruined for me. I was more or less a wreck inside.

By the time we arrived, collected luggage, hired (rented) a car, and drove to our lodging, we were basically after the hours that restaurants are open around here. But we went to the grocery store. That was also close to closing time, but we had fifty minutes to shop. That should be no problem, right?

Sometimes time is on your side, but you don't really notice it then. You notice it when it isn't. And yesterday it wasn't.

So let's be sympathetic for my sympathetic nervous system.

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