Is there anything more banal than work stress? There are, at any given moment, about a dozen better things to be hypervigilant about. And yet, there’s my mind, running on a constant hamster wheel of worry, a ticker tape parade of immanent disasters raining down, of balls I am about to drop, or worse, am already dropping but don’t realize it. To fall asleep composing an email and then wake up composing an email feels like the height of human absurdity, a complete divorce from the heart and soul of what it should mean to be human. Especially when you’re a mostly rational person who understands that the success or failure of said email corresponds to no matter of lasting importance. And more especially when one is self-employed, and one has no one to blame for one’s overwhelm but one’s self.
I made a decision recently that the only way beyond this stress was truly to go through it. So I decided that on one particular Monday I would sit down and essentially not get up until everything was done. Well, everything that could possibly be done in a day. I sat down in front of my computer at 7:30am, and with one break for a brisk walk in pouring rain, I didn’t get back up from it until 7pm. I realize there are those for whom that is a not-abnormal workday. My marathon days are usually spent giving massages and teaching yoga, so to spend a day exporting email lists and designing marketing materials was bizarre but not without it’s satisfactions and small victories.
Which is why it was especially heartbreaking the next morning, when I went to send a test-email of my newsletter to my own email address, and it arrived in my inbox with almost no content, just a series of barely visible ellipses that mysteriously contained the hidden content if one found them and clicked on them. Everything I had worked on for the bulk of the previous day was invisible. A wave of disappointment and failure broke over me and I burst into tears. This was the kind of wailing, hiccuping cry usually reserved for loss of a loved one. It was total nonsense, yet an utter relief. It was, in it’s keen pain, a satisfying moment, when the careening, animal terror of even the most banal human moments broke through and demanded acknowledgement.
You’ll be relieved to hear the newsletter got fixed, by one of my partners, who is much more patient than I. When it was time to send the message for real, MailChimp showed me a graphic of a sweating, shaking monkey arm about to push a button. Picture the paw above, but trembling, with blue drops of sweat rolling down. “This is it,” the text read. “Your moment of glory.” I laughed out loud. How did this program know me so well? Is this the universal human experience of newsletter sending? It would appear I am not alone in my foibles, in the incomprehensible things I waste my valuable life force on. I smiled, shook my head and hit “send.”
(If you are dying to read the fruits of my newsletter labors, click here. And for those of you interested in my classes, I announce availability there first, so sign up if you want first dibs!)