Thursday, 26 September 2013 18:20

Are you Weighed Down With Stress? Let a Culvert Point the Way to Relief...

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Life is stressful, why are we not crushed by the load?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life? Do you ever say to yourself, "If one more thing happens, I'm going to scream.", or worse, do you sometimes wish it could all just end?

I know how you feel. Many times I've found myself straining under the load of life when, like the proverbial camel, a final straw was added to my load by Murphy (or one of his cousins) that crushed me. In those times, I wished mightily for something, anything—to magically lighten my load so I could struggle on. Unfortunately, no magic genie appeared to grant my wish.



There have been times when I thought, the load is too great, I just can't go on.

Then one day, when the stress of life was a little less than usual, I found myself staring out my window at a culvert. I noticed vehicles of all sizes, large and small, heavy and light passing over the culvert without crushing it. I wondered, how is it possible such a flimsy metal tube could support the 20 ton weight of a loaded dump truck without being crushed. I've seen culverts in supply yards crushed flat when even a small vehicle backed over them by mistake. How is it possible for the culvert I was watching to survive the constant stress of traffic passing overhead seemingly with ease?

Then I remembered a physics class from years before in which the teacher guided the class through an analysis of the stresses imposed on a culvert. Through clever mathematics, he described how a culvert sitting on the ground by itself is quite weak and how the application of relatively little stress will crush it flatter than a pancake.

How does a culvert carry its load?

My physics teacher then described through more clever mathematics how things change when a culvert is installed in the ground. He showed how a force applied to the top of the culvert is opposed by the surrounding soil and gravel providing a supporting and "canceling" force. This "opposing force" from the surrounding ground offsets and redirects the force from vehicles passing overhead into the Earth below. As a result, the culvert feels very little stress—even when a fully loaded dump truck passes overhead.

We are surrounded by others that offset and redirect our loads.

At that moment, a light went on in my head and I saw myself as a culvert. If I try to stand alone like a culvert on top of the ground, I will easily be crushed by the stresses of even trivial events. On the other hand, if I surround myself with supporting colleagues, friends, and family, I will be like the culvert installed in the ground. The stresses of life will be offset by support from my friends and family, those stresses will then flow around me "into the Earth below". And my load will be lightened to something I can bear.

Let the stress flow around you.

As the realization hit me that I get to choose whether I stand on the surface alone like a culvert in a supply yard or whether I stand together with others like a culvert installed in the ground, I felt the load I'd been carrying disappear as if by magic. It turns out the magic genie I'd been wishing for had been within me all along. I just had to wake up, place myself firmly in the ground of my friends and family, let them offset my stress, and let the stress flow around me rather than through me.

Now when I begin to feel stress, I take a deep breath, remember the story of the culvert, call on some friends and let the stress pass around me. In this manner, what at first seems overwhelming becomes easy, what at first seems crushing, becomes bearable.

Give it a try. Next time you feel stressed, take a deep breath, call a friend, ask for help and let the stress flow around you instead of through you.


Last modified on Thursday, 10 October 2013 12:40

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