Sport, exercise and hobbies of all sorts from standing in front of those blinking metal bandits called pokies to macrame perform the vital task of stress relief. They allow us to disassociate ourselves from the world in which we live and let our self-critical minds have a little rest. Fair enough I say, considering the state of the world and the nation, and the whole transitory nature of being human.
Life is so laden with grief and loss and harassment. What lasting meaning we seem to derive from life seems to be trapped in these non-reflective moments of absorption, anyway. These moments of which I speak are when we are engrossed in playing a game or writing a poem or swimming a lap.
Traditional mediation, though perhaps more effective in liberating us from the pressures of modern life, has never held me for long, while fielding at silly point or even perusing a half painted canvas has been much more effective at keeping me preoccupied.
But there are limits within which we should restrict our pastimes.
Some people think that jumping off kilometre high cliffs is a great way to get out of their heads. This I dont understand. We are told its about the chemical structure of their brains they need to take extreme risks to feel alive. Frankly, I think theyre just suffering from an adrenalin resistance, like diabetics suffer from insulin resistance. Insulin and adrenalin are both hormones. Insulin allows the body to use blood sugar while adrenalin creates a wide range of effects like the constriction of blood flow in the gut, dilation of pupils and an increase in heart rate.
Insulin resistance occurs when the cells do not respond to the normal amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas and wont accept sugar, and I suspect, though Im no clinician, the same happens with adrenalin. Basically, the physical reactions you normally experience decrease with continued exposure to stressful situations.
With insulin dependance sugars builds up in the blood leading to, in extreme cases, renal failure, blindness, wounds that wont heal, and coronary artery disease. In the case of adrenalin resistance people find they need to jump off higher and higher cliffs or gamble more and more money. I think its just as much of an illness as diabetes but somehow its socially acceptable. Why?
Perhaps the most intriguing and paradoxical aspect of extreme risk pastimes is that people engage in them, like all hobbies, to free themselves from the stress of everyday life. For them the stress of having a mundane life is too demanding, so high are their life expectations.
But the grief that they cause when they kill themselves is insane. They ruin lives, its horrifically selfish and the media predilection with it is nothing more than a death cult.
What we do need to do is intervene. We need to make it clear to the people we love that their life and health is extremely important to us and its something they should take into account in their choices. There are safer alternatives. After all, its only a biochemical addiction you can overcome and/or refocus it, but first you must see that its an illness. Alas, wisdom comes with age, and its the older members of society who need to provide guidance until people grow up.
Tell your loved ones you love them and youre concerned for their well-being. Its important to help them see past their own selfish desires.
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