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Secret Naked Stress Tapes
by Michael Giardina

These days, we don't stick our nose in flowers and enjoy the potent musk shooting up our cute nostrils. We don't know the joy of sitting in an empty field, separated from buildings and people, belly-laughing at the sky.

Instead, we stress. We listen to television commercials, check e-mail, write research papers and microwave our dinner at the same time. We are constantly on the go, frustrated, fretting, fidgeting. Instead of making our lives easier, technological progress has opened the door to a culture of anxiety - a people unable to relax.

We used to walk through pleasant gardens and sip on tea to relax. Mozart played his piano. These days, oiled machines punch kosher vegicaps full with crumbs of valerian, hops, passion flower, catnip, kava kava and chamomile, scooping them into medicine bottles. Newsflash: You can't cram the Garden of Eden into a hippie pill.

People are willing to try anything to curb stress and our markets offer a plenitude of techno-options: CortiTrophin, SynCholamine, Positrol and Phosphatidylserine.

Once those fail, you can jump into the wild world of prescribed tranquilizers: Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Halcion, Klonopin. Yes, they are addictive and induce amnesia; no point relieving stress when you can forcefully forget it.

Once the herbs fail and the prescriptions run out, people race to the underground. Instead of finding time for leisure, we offset the stress of daily techno-life with a wide array of chemicals: nicotine, alcohol, marijuana and ecstasy.

Amazingly, most of these polysyllabic miracle cures are mere sedatives or deliriants. They slow down the world, make you forget stressors, reduce oxygen flow to the brain, interrupt the central nervous system or artificially release natural pleasure-inducing chemicals that would otherwise be released when doing something you enjoy.

And we love them. If just for a moment, there's nothing to worry about; we can enjoy a single moment of silence in our vast technoculture that fears silence, solitude and - by association - serenity.

Why do we feel lonely when the television doesn't offer a unique evening plot, get anxious when there is no music piping away while dinner sizzles in the microwave and wonder where everybody is when AOL Instant Messenger doesn't probe with that constant, siren-like "babloink!"?

The goal is to tune out of this giant machine of uncertainty that is daily life and instead tune in to our own thoughts, emotions and especially, desires.

Some people fear being disconnected so severely that they get home from a hectic day, only to immediately reconnect themselves into a massive, multiplayer online computer realm, where they can continue fake struggles, overcome invented challenges and fight with pseudo-people for nonexistent commodities.

Imagine if one day everyone in the world disconnected from this social beast, this roaring whir of technology, to listen to how a heartbeat flows in rhythm with wind through trees. Remember, we are just animals.

So, tuning out of this stressful, whirlwind world will not score for you that movie-star lifestyle you have always dreamed of. It is time to give that up in the name of mental health. Besides, you can't compete with the earnest initiative of those who have already accomplished your goals.

You can't compete with the Paris Hiltons of the world who work hard and spend every moment of their lives studying and researching. So, try something completely different. Forget your exceptional work ethic and resort to making secret naked stress tapes in the privacy of your mind. Don't worry, you don't look stressed; you look positively sophisticated.