Release Valves

I still remember our giant green dinosaur pool toy from our swimming days in the 90’s. It was incredible. It was huge. You could cram several kids on it at the same time and attempt to stay afloat. However, the two elements that none of us really gave much thought were when it had to be aired up and later deflated. The inflation process wasn’t horrible because you’re kids and you don’t care- it’s a huge, floating dinosaur. But I can honestly say I never once (seriously not once) thought or knew what happened when swimming season was finished. That’s because my parents were charged with the task of deflating that beast. Now, anyone who has ever tried to deflate one of these things by pinching the release valve as your fingers go numb, will tell you it’s not an enviable job. There are inevitably moments in life when it literally feels like no other area could be stressed; we’ve ran out of plates to be spun. Work is crazy, kids are going bananas, spouses are going in all directions, taillight goes out, plumbing issues at the house, and then a letter from your insurance company arrives in the mail. This is the point where you’re frantically looking for the release valve. Any valve. Just get one thing to chill out and settle down. You wouldn’t use a bull horn to let the air out of the giant green dinosaur- no, you painstakingly commit to the tedious process of getting the job done. So why do we take the bull horn to social media, our spouses, our friends, our colleagues when things get stressful? It doesn’t make any rational sense. It’s be better to pick one thing and commit to seeing the air fully let out until you’ve deflated that beast. But that’s doing the hard, emotional labor which is tough to muster when capacities are already low. The SEALS have a saying “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” and sometimes the best response is the counterintuitive one. Instead of frantically working faster to spin the plates, just slowly start to put them up for the season.

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