Thursday, July 13, 2017

The End of Silence: Back from a Hiatus or Stress-filled Interval

Light at the End of the Tunnel
My apologies for not having posted for quite some time. Even during busy times, I would usually manage to sneak in a post or two every month but the past six months have been quite something, to put it mildly and euphemistically. Some parts I am personally responsible for, while others have been thrust upon me unawares.

First off, since Christmas I had been ailed with intense gum pains, which eventually led to the extraction not of one put two of my teeth! Fortunately, they are not front row teeth but losing two generally healthy teeth is hard to swallow. Both cases were due to irresponsible if not downright careless actions by two different dentists: the first one had done me a root canal but managed to leave a souvenir in the gums, a tiny broken piece of equipment; the second one did not put in or fasten my crown properly leaving room for bacteria to enter on the sly, which led to a subsequent infection and copious amounts of pain. I had to be treated with antibiotics for one of the abscessed teeth, while the other one remained a borderline infection case and that meant that I had to refrain from drinking wine for a whole two weeks in a row!

My wine-drinking habit started about a couple of years ago when I was facing a heavy workload and the precious red liquid helped to ease and deal with the stress. While drinking wine I have come to appreciate it not so much as an alcoholic beverage but rather as an art form in and by itself. It is not just used to drink my sorrows away but to replenish myself with life and vitality whilst discovering and developing a certain palate or taste bud for this nectar of gods and goddesses. I am far from being a wine connoisseur but I have picked up a thing or two along the grapevines.

But somehow even wine could not prepare me for what was to come. I took in a heavier load than normal and ended up working pretty much non-stop. No holy sabbath or idle Sunday for this middle-aged man! I was tired and weary, and family time or any other time of quality for that matter had to be reduced and downright sacrificed for the sake of work. All work and no play, well you can imagine and fill in the rest.

Yet I am one who can generally deal with constant stress, or so I thought. It turns out that by continuously living in survival mode and not giving your body time to recover and to regenerate can only lead to more serious problems. The workplace that used to give me joy and encouragement and that appreciated and valued my intelligence and creativity had undergone some unfortunate changes in management (and possibly ideology) and became instead a blind and deaf place where choices were limited to either their way or the highway, so I was forced to put on my wandering boots.

As a result, my stress levels skyrocketed and were much higher than usual. I suddenly suffered symptoms I had only heard or read about: I could not sleep well; I felt troubled and tormented with occasional panic attacks, and highly unusual for me I just did not feel at peace anymore within my skin.

I realized that many people suffer on a regular basis from these symptoms and they – the symptoms not the people - are truly unpleasant and overwhelming; I felt affinity with them and their suffering. Especially now, I get angry at people who do not see this and assume that insomnia or episodes of stress can be treated by simply relaxing or closing one’s eyes. It cuts much deeper than that.

As usual, I try to see the positive side of things although this optimistic side of me had been stifled and comprised within me. I had support from colleagues and friends and I am entirely grateful for that. A few words here and there and a hug felt like balsam on my soul. It is often in times of need that one realizes how much love and care there is in people, which then manages to come to the forefront. It creates a new bond that is to stay even after the periods of stress, a glimpse of beyond the surface, the true worth and value of a person. Of course, there are some who are nothing but surface and lack worth, value and dignity, but that is better left unsaid here.

The other thing I learned was not to overvalue work. Many of us see it tied up with our identity. We work very hard to establish a name and career and take it to be the definition of who we are. But this is not so. It can at best only be a fragment of ourselves. The workaholic (and I am a recovering one myself) may not immediately see this, but there are other parts and aspects to life than work. In the end, when you pour so much of yourself into your work, you realize that at the end of the day, it does not amount too much. People who have been loyal to companies for years can be replaced and are essentially indispensable. I have seen and even felt it myself at times and it can be all as empty as a Trojan horse when push comes to shove.

So for reasons of health and sanity, it is best to find balance and moderation in everything. That extra push at the expense of one’s personal relationships is not really worth it. Time will pass whether you notice or not. We want to be doing what we enjoy the most and be with the people we cherish most and not be dictated by the mandates of work. As the good book says somewhere, there is a time and season for everything while a wise man once advised us to avoid excess and seek only moderation.

These are the lessons that I learnt the hard way over the past months but they needed to be learnt in that manner. That is when and how you remember them best and cherish those findings most. It may feel like turning your world upside down, but it is a necessary evil that can be turned to your own advantage if you look closely enough. Long story short, this is why I have neglected my joyful duty of writing and posting here and I hope it serves as a genuine apology with the sincere hope that it shall not happen again. 


Vincent said...

Very glad you're back, Arash, & confident that these unwished-for events will continue to have a transformative effect and as you say, work to your advantage. I feel all the more confident after downloading "Love Affairs" and enjoying your originality of plot and expression; and also the depth of your thought. When I've finished it I'll be delighted to write a review.

Joyful duty indeed!

Arash Farzaneh said...

Most humbled, dear Vincent! Thank you for the kind & uplifting words! I can't wait to read your review & thoughts on "Love Affairs"!

Yes, most glad myself to be back here. In fact, I've felt guilty for not providing food for thought + discussion for you over the past months! My apologies for neglecting my own joyful duty!

I have a few posts on movies in the offing. Have you by chance seen SILENCE? I am prepping a perhaps non-conventional approach to the film.

Vincent said...

Just checked out a review on "Silence". It didn't make me eager to order the DVD, I must admit. But that doesn't stop me being eager to read your reactions to it. I like your use of the word "approach" in this context. How does one approach a man-eating tiger? How do hedgehogs approach their mating season?

Arash Farzaneh said...

I hear you. I felt the same way at first until a co-worker recommended it to me. Not sure if I would recommend it myself but I found it quite interesting. And it has led to an upcoming post so it's worth it in the end...

Vincent said...

I greatly enjoyed Love Affairs. Good fun, light-hearted, intelligent, original in style. But I’m sure you can do better, with this or your promised sequel. If you could send me your email address via my contact page I could send you some notes I started making at Portrait 4—things I liked, things I thought could help make it a smoother read. I note you’ve said somewhere that you don’t write for a living, but that you live to write. Which implies a readiness to put in any amount of effort, subject only to the inevitable commitments of paid work & family.

Arash Farzaneh said...

Wonderful! Yes, it was the effect I was aiming for: fun, light-hearted and intelligent, and I am most happy to have achieved it then!

I'd love to read about your thoughts and reactions, please send them to my email address:

There is a sequel in the offing and I am almost half done and it's not half bad ; )

Thanks again, Vincent, I very much appreciate it!