I was playing this guy in the club in the side room about 4 years ago and it was a close match.  After a lengthy rally, I won the point with a fantastic decisive forehand shot that should have sent a sonic boom across the main room and toward the center of Pleasantville, because I’m quite sure the speed on that ping pong ball broke the sound barrier. Hell of a shot.  But the thing of it is, there was another explosion.  The guy I was playing, who was usually composed and sedate (and happened to be Italian), went berserk.  Mamma mia!  I’m talking insane fury here.  Murderous rage.  Lucky thing, I still had good reflexes at the time, because I managed to duck the incoming paddle that he hurled, which was approaching my neck at the speed of light (okay, okay, maybe only Mach II, I don’t want to exaggerate).  And then my pisan started to fight.  No, not with me – he spared me.   His ire was directed at the wall, which he slugged several times with his bare hands and which he bested by producing 3 holes, all of which coincidentally matched his fist size.  A little while later, after his blood pressure had abated somewhat, we continued our match.  And, eh, he won.  (As a matter of fact, I don’t think I got another point.  But as a consolation I was still alive.)

Why am I telling you this?  Don’t be silly – it’s not just to fill out another week’s blog.  And It’s not to magnify my phenomenal shot. (It was fantastic!  Just an amazing show of artistry with a paddle.  Sorry it’s not on video tape. Too bad – the nation’s loss.)  No, sir.  I’m writing this to talk about anger.  And stress.  These are subjects I happen to know a lot about.  How come?  Because I’m angry a lot and stressed out most of the time.  That’s why.  I’m an expert, so listen up.

My first nugget of sapience is this:  Anger is bad. (Are you writing this down?)  Not a good emotion, even if you feel you’ve been wronged somehow, it will redound to your own harm.  Remember what Nixon said when he resigned?  His famous words were ‘Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.’  For once, Tricky Dick got it right, but let’s express it slightly more neurologically. It’s the cortisol that will destroy you.  We produce this stress hormone when you’ve had it up to here (I’m pointing to my neck), and this steroid produced by your adrenal glands for so-called ‘fight or flight’ responses (emergency conditions) can be harmful.  It can negatively effect your heart and your immune system.  It does other stuff, too.  (Healthline lists the following:  “Chronic complications: Including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.  Weight gain: Cortisol increases appetite and signals the body to shift metabolism to store fat.  Tiredness: It interferes with daily cycles of other hormones, disrupting sleep patterns and causing fatigue. Impaired brain function: Cortisol interferes with memory, contributing to mental cloudiness or brain fog.”)  If not controlled, it can end up killing you or, at the least, minimizing the number of candles you’ll see on your birthday cake.    Really!

I gotta quit right here because I’m stressed out.  I forgot to shut the oven off and the pizza was burned to a crisp.  Anyway, more wisdom of the universe coming your way worthy of Socrates in a week or two.  Stay tuned for Part II.   LD