Summer House Soaps is going to the New York Gift Show in a couple of days.  Getting ready has felt much like waiting to take the plunge on New Year’s Day….same anxiety, same “let’s get this show on the road” impatience. I’ve been waking up at 3:00 a.m. and having trouble going back to sleep, my mind filled with Things to Do. Last weekend I went through an obsessive-compulsive stage when I made lots of lists and counted all the shelving screws (cause if you need 20 screws and it turns out you only have 19, you’ve kinda screwed. Likewise if you need duct tape or floral wire and don’t have it.) But now things are in place and I’m as much in control as I can expect to be. Knowing all the while that shit happens.

In my Zen practice, I’ve worked to get comfortable with change, with the unfamiliar and the unexpected. But the fact is, having been born naked and shivering into a dangerous world, we humans are wired to crave safety and familiarity. Only when we’re well-anchored in security do we start to want the spice of the new. Last year, when we went to the NY show for the first time, every darn thing had to be figured out for the first time. Where to park, which subway to take, how to get our stuff into the building, and on and on. There were major snafus, like when our booth space turned out to be two feet too short so our shelving didn’t fit. But we dealt with it all, and by midweek, a reassuring sense of routine started to set in. I knew where to find my morning coffee. I knew that if I was opposite that billboard, I was at the right bus stop. I’m sure it will be like that next week.

But still the anxiety. And a niggling little voice in my head that says “maybe you’re getting too old for this kind of thing. You aren’t as resilient as you used to be. Concentrate on reducing stress. Go for comfort. Take it easy.” And another voice that shouts back, “Shut UP! That’s exactly how you get old!”  

Probably both voices have valid points. Stress is bad for the body. At the same time, a lot of stress comes, not from the actual situation, but from anticipation. Usually waiting for things is much worse than doing them. And once they’re done, it feels pretty darn good.