Monday, June 22, 2009


What is tension? The simplest thought I have about tension is the rubber-band. Not a very hot topic of conversation or center point of a novel, but the simply, lowly rubber band can explain alot. Rubber bans can be strong, weak, resilient, and dry out; but if enough tension is added to that wonderful band of rubber it, of course, breaks.

Sometimes you can feel the tension in the air; like an invisible force that everyone in a certain area is affected by; blood-pressure up, adrenaline pumping, senses alert. Tension; what will the outcome be? Will the band break or hold?

I remember the day after 9/11 I was driving close to my apartment and another car cut me off. I honked, gave a middle finger, and yelled some expletives. The other driver got out of his car. I got out of mine. Tension. We cursed at each other and then stared each other down, like gunslingers. The tension eased. We both got back in our cars, hearts pounding and drove off.

This past Father's day I was driving my family to dinner when we stopped at a light. I was simply having a conversation with my wife and the kids were sleeping in the back seat. No tension. I looked over at the lane next to me and saw two men get out of their cars and walk towards each other threateningly. Tension. I rolled down the window instantly stung by a stream of curses and, yes, tension. I said "Guys, relax!! Its Fathers Day, you don't want to fight on Fathers Day!"--no reaction, the tension was rising. I tried to quell the situation again, but to no avail. Chests started bumping. Tension was almost at it's climax. I quickly put the car in park and leaped out of the car, forcing my way in between the two men. Tension say "What do I do?" I push the men apart and look into both of their eyes "Guys" I say in a soft tone, "Its Fathers day, relax." The rubber band relaxes with a sigh. The men don't utter a word, they just give me a tired frown and walk to their respective cars. Tension-0, Madman-1. I climbed back into my car and continued the journey.

Tension can be hidden in a glance or a whisper, it can glide across a warm breeze or a snowflake. Tension can be as clear as the nose on your face and as plain as a crinkled brow. It can punch you in the face or cut through you like a well thought out insult.

Two rams jousting, two sharks circling, its out there. How do we deal with it? How do we resolve it? It is part of us, it spurs us, it is part of Darwin's survival of the fittest. Just a thought. So next time you pick up the little piece of rubber I hope it has some extra special meaning to you.


Anonymous said...

You are totally my hero. I think it is because you just exert calm. Good thing for a crazy lady like myself.

Anonymous said...

Good thing they didn't just gang up on you! I know exactly what you mean! My H gets really tense when we go to dinner and the service is poor. I try to tell him to just stay focused on the conversation (like with moi) and he will not even notice! I am a big tension absorber and diffuser- like a lightening rod- guess that's why I do what I do!

Jaina said...

That's scary...I'm glad you were able to diffuse the situation. I don't think I will ever look at a rubber band the same way again.