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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

August 1999, No. 1, Sect. II

The second section will consist primarily of material -- humor and otherwise -- that filters down from cyberspace. Today we feature Readers' Responses to "The Mountain Is the Message: Part I." I think you will find your colleagues' words quite inspiring. (If you missed Part I, email me stressdoc@aol.com)

From: Siscili@aol.com

This month's main essay couldn't have come at a better time! I have been surfing the past couple of weeks for information on backpacking/hiking. This new interest was sparked by one of our local newspaper writers (<A HREF="http://www.dispatch.com/news/newsfea99/walk/">A WALK IN THE WOODS</A>) who has been hiking the AT and sharing his experiences with readers like myself. Unfortunately, he had to stop the trek due to an uncooperative ankle injury. Anyways, his stories have been an inspiration to me as I have been searching for more of a fulfilling life than work and school. I was also inspired by the number of women hikers, especially the solo hikers. I am going to skydive for the first time the end of this month. I've been asked/accused of going through mid-life crisis. What is mid-life crisis anyways? And why does mid-life have to be a crisis? I like to think of it as mid-life appreciation. Since my divorce (almost 3 years ago), I have a much deeper appreciation for the basic things in life that God has created for us to enjoy...if only we only our senses to them. Sometimes, I feel blessed to this appreciation while so many are oblivious. I remember driving to work one day in awe of a beautiful sunrise, and feeling my eyes well up with tears because it was such a wonderful gift to enjoy. A friend and I arrived in the parking lot at the same time, and I asked her if she saw the beautiful sunrise, which was just over our shoulder. She had not noticed it a bit. I turned her around so she could see it. She looked, kinda like "yep, that's a sunrise", then continued on walking to the building. I was somewhat heart-broken that she didn't have the same appreciation as I, but I also knew how gifted I was to be able to enjoy the sunrise as much as I did. I still look to the skies for a sunrise, sunset, or just the wonders of the sky. If this is what mid-life crisis is all about, then I want to be stuck in it and continue to appreciate all that life have to offer.....for free. Getting back to the backpacking/hiking, I think it would give me a deeper appreciation for nature as well as soul....and hopefully not too much depreciation on my body. ;-') With all that said, I'll take my leave and finish reading your essay.

Siscili

(Publisher's Note: Siscili@aol.com has a delightful free service. She sends out daily thought-provoking and inspiring quotes.)

From: J

Was so jealous of your mountain hiking. Shoveled rock into a pathway I've been building this weekend and now I've been awake since 3:30 a.m. with my back killing me. Would love to take the day off and go to a chiropractor, but with HMO's, you have to go to your doctor first and wrangle a recommendation out of him before you can even proceed to where you need to be - in addition to that, I'm training to take over the Soc. Svc. G.A. payroll starting Wed. so I can't really afford to take a 'sick day' off to run around to doctor's appointments. So the thought of hiking in mountains not only awakens my lust for nature, but reminds me that I can't even seem to function in the world of rock shoveling anymore.

Is it any wonder we wage-slaves resent the world of Big Bucks? If I were more powerful financially, I could take care of myself when I need to. Instead, I will force myself to go to work and do my duty to The Machine. And I will get through the day, and the week, and the month, and the year upon year upon year until I die, but it sure won't be "quality time", you know? I want to take a trip to Holland to see the tulips next spring...sounds simple, right? But to accomplish that, I can't take so much as ONE vacation day off from now until next April in order to 'earn' enough vacation time! Ponder the cruelty of that next time you're hiking down the mountain trails...I would love to know how to put a positive spin on it.

Was really glad to turn the page on the calendar this month...July began with one of the men in our unit committing suicide and the myriad repercussions of that, including the fact that he'd been dating one of the women in our unit and she had just broken up with him the week before. Then one of our clients was murdered. Then 2 people in our unit began feuding. Then the soon-to-be-ex-wife, mother, & daughter of the man who committed suicide showed up at work demanding 'accountability' of Soc. Svcs., saying that it drove him insane and sending my sup into wales of tears. Then I began training to learn Payroll. Then my sister phoned to tell me she couldn't pay me back the 4000. she owes me as agreed (she'll be doling out small payments instead). Then my dad said he's going to have to have an operation...which means someone will have to go take care of my mom while he's in the hospital (she has Alzheimers). Then my aunt had an emergency triple bypass. It's just been a BALL. Now I'm beginning Aug. with a back that locks up on me, leaving me beached like a fish out of water. I want to go hiking in the mountains next to crystal-clear springs! Thanks for letting me vent, Julia

From: jmoore@gumdropbooks.com (Jerina Moore)

A major emphasis of your writing is the eternal necessity for personal growth. In this light, may I suggest the following. Your writing conveys substantial personal awareness and power and you have the ability to "write the living of what you preach"; however, when you write your poetry, I'd like to humbly suggest that you occasionally explore free verse or less rhyming or a different meter. The strength, truth and power (and yes, elegance) of your words is mitigated by constant rhyming. Just an opinion but possibly a path for growth. Have a nice day, Jerina Moore Human Resources Central Programs, Inc. / Gumdrop Books 100 N. 16th Street PO Box 505 Bethany, MO 64424-0505

From: tca@integrate.org (Trudy)

Hey Mark, THANKS. I really enjoyed every bit of this. Especially the "Ah," the "Aha!," and the "Haha." I'll be experimenting with them in the tub.

Consider me morbidly curious, so yes, please, send me the account of your past poor judgement on the mountain.

I like these images and thoughts. It's a nice drift for me, the kinds of pictures, memories, mental and emotional associations that go on when hiking, climbing, just sitting on the rocks by a creek. You have a way of writing that is similar to my unshared thinking, so it's a bit dreamy, therefore relaxing, which, after all, is your point (StressDoc). My January birthday solo Yosemite experience with expert agile boy-girl moves in under around over the masssive field of boulders was both youthfully boastful and ah...aha humble whenever another blue jay came within inches to offer to share my lunch. (yes, this great rocky beauty is still great, but far from remote at this point in history.) I nimbly recovered every move and nuance of childhood (I was raised in the woods in southern Oregon, thankfully), and this swift sweep of grace without even skinning knees (my kissable knees, as I remember them) did in fact greatly resemble "path-shrubs-trees-forest-mountain face-water flow-birds singing..." strangely enough...

So, thanks. Keep up the excellent (and prolific) work.

One comment, on: "one also must know doubt and shame." I think humility is knowing one's place and feeling good about it. I am most powerful when I know my limits.

take care, enjoy d.c.'s old street trees for me. ;-)

From: Tula710

This piece was quite extraordinary and wonderful. You have a remarkable power to evoke images, moods, and feelings with your writing. And you just keep getting better and better at it. Have you attempted to publish anything? I know you said you had wanted to write a book, but that things didn't work out.

Moods are so elusive and hard to verbalize - yet you are able not only to describe but deliver the actual mood experience. As one who has had maximum experience with a mood disorder, I know that what you evoke is so REAL for many of us. The highs, lows and the in-betweens.

Well, I just wanted to lavish praise on you. You deserve it. Hope the powers that be are not working you too hard. Take good care of yourself and keep up the brilliant work!

Warm Regards,

Tula

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. --- Rene Daumal

There is an intense but simple thrill in setting off in the morning on a mountain trail, knowing that everything you need is on your back. It is a confidence in having left the inessentials behind and of entering a world of natural beauty that has not been violated, where money has no value, and possessions are a deadweight. The person with the fewest possessions is the freest. Thoreau was right. --- Paul Theroux

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings: Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine into flowers, the winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms, their energy and cares will drop off like autumn leaves. --- John Muir

(Publisher's Note: Tula710@aol.com has a wonderful free service. She sends out excerpts and entire selections of the work of wide array of authors, essayists and poets. Send her an email if interested.)

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, the Stress Doc, a psychotherapist and nationally recognized speaker, trainer, consultant and author, is also known as AOL's and the internet's "Online Psychohumorist" ™. Check out his USA Today Online "Hot Site" website - www.stressdoc.com  and his page on AOL/Online Psych, Keyword: Stress Doc

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