I've Seen the Enemy and It Is Us!

by DavalosMcCormack on December 12, 2008

Kevin and I just got back from 3 gorgeous days in Calistoga, California.  He told you about it in a recent posting.  We go there to do “nothing”  for a while, and get a fresh point of view on our lives, work and otherwise.

When we were there we got to take part in the Christmas celebration and kick-off to the Holidays that is celebrated by the “town-folk”.   There was  a delightful “Lighted Tractor” parade where the ranchers and the rest of the community decorate tractors with festive lights, there are children dressed up as elves, and Santas who wave to the crowd.

There was even a Grinch stealing presents from the chimney!  We wandered out of our motel and up that street about 15 minutes before the parade began to find a vantage point to take the scene in.  Here’s what happened.

It wasn’t crowded!  There were a lot of people lining the street, but there was also plenty of room to go around.  No one was shoving, pushing, or pigging up spots!  Sure, there were some people who came and put their folding chairs down so they could sit and watch the festivities and there were more folks around the judges stand but everyone was in a pretty good mood.  People moved so the kids could see better.  There were yells, ooohs and ahhs as the tractors wove their way to each side of the street.  In general, it was easy, nice, fun even.

It got us wondering how much people are unwittingly competing with each other on so many levels.  Recently, I read an article about Jason Barger, a consultant who travels a lot and decided to try an experiment on the stress levels that people experience as they travel by air.

He spent 7 days and nights, traveling to different locations in the U.S. just observing people in the airport and on the plane.  He noticed a lot of angst, waiting and some bad behavior, but what struck me most is how people contributed to their own anxiety and stress levels.

Think of it, Mr Barger wrote about how at the baggage claim area, the buzzer goes off and everyone vies for a place at the rim, intent on getting their baggage on the first try, while others who arrived too late for the first buzz work their way through the crowd to claim a spot of their own.

He also noted how the chime goes off in the plane when the landing has been completed and folks jump up to grab their bags from the overhead bin and then continue to stand in a crouching position in order to wait for the doors to open.

Some will telephone their friends to let them know they will be disembarking in moments.  Why they need to inform people immediately is a mystery.

So, watching how polite and gentle people in Calistoga were with each other Kevin and I were reminded of all the self-imposed stress we experience in so many other aspects of our lives.

Ever think that you may be being used?  How about those “bargains” that will only be available when the store opens at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving!  The manipulation methods used by one store actually ended tragically when a store employee was trampled to death by a crowd intent on racing to the half priced laptops!

If you think about it, how often are you teased, called upon to compete with others.  At the coffee shop where the line will be long if you don’t hurry.  What about the best seats in a movie, and don’t forget the lounge chairs that must be saved by throwing your towel down by the pool.

Kevin was telling me that he witnessed people lined up at a spa pool gate at 7 am, just to put their towels down, save their place and come back later when the rest of the family woke up.

Maybe we should all wake up!  Why do we have to be first?  Now I can understand if you have to catch another flight that takes off at the other end of the airport.  I’d be anxious to get there too, but really,  a bargain is good but not when you have to stand in line in the dark waiting for the store to open so you can get one of a few lap tops on sale.

Aren’t we anxious enough.  Let’s decide how we want to live and conduct our lives.  As Mr. Barger said,  Serenity and civility can have a place in our lives, if we choose.  But first we have to decide to make that choice.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: