Save your stress ball. Laugh a little.

Once upon a time, which happens to be a few days ago, our ancient dryer was sabotaged by a seemingly ill stroke of fate. At the top of this dryer is a chute covered by a broken plastic lid, and within this chute rests the salvation of our laundry: the vent that catches all the lint. The sanctity of this hallowed chute has long been threatened by spare coins and other foes. The covering that protects it has been weakened by age and assailants, and finally, this past Monday, this battered guardian of solid plastic was not only struck down but was turned against the very sanctuary it was meant to protect. Indeed, an errant flick of the wrist was all it took to send this crippled guardian down that metallic channel.

Consequently, the machine itself was corrupted. What was once our only hope of drying our laundry in thirty minutes became a wretched heap of hidden dangers should we dare to wake it from its dusty slumber. Horrible twist of fate this was, too, for we had a full load of towels screaming for someone to save them from their sodden torment. Summoning my courage, I brandished the one tool I thought would be able to breach the shadows of the compromised chute to retrieve our fallen hero.

Try as I might, all my efforts to save that scrap of plastic ended in frustrating failure. I ascended the steps to the upper kingdom to bring the grim news to my mother. During my ascent, I could make out the faint notes of a song echoing from the upper halls. Once I cleared the threshold, I recognized the dirge that punctuated my failure as the first line of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” reached my ears: “So close, no matter how far . . . ” At that moment, the weight of my stress was alleviated as I fell into a fit of wry laughter.

We decided to renew our valiant efforts the following day, on the 4th of May. I decided to spend Tuesday in my room writing the first draft of this account and completing other missions, but my mother and one other fought the good fight. They moved our disgruntled dryer away from the wall to reveal the hidden passage that would allow them to retrieve the toppled protector, and good thing, too, for what else did they find but a mass of black mold hiding in the shadows. What we first took as a loathsome inconvenience was, in fact, a blessing in disguise—one that allowed us to discover that horrid uprising of fungus and eradicate it before it grew worse. That day, war was waged against a dangerous adversary, a lost comrade in arms was recovered, and our laundry was saved from languishing in watery torture on the clothing racks.


The Takeaway

I don’t belong to any religion, but I still believe in a higher power. I’m not out to convert anyone to my way of thinking, but this is my personal blog and I’m going to respectfully share my opinions. I usually attribute events in my life, especially freak incidents like the one described above, to my higher power either looking out for me, tempering me, or trying to teach me something. Because of this, I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to find morals in the events I go through. What I pulled away from the extremely minor trial described above were two important lessons that I’ve had an increasingly difficult time recalling lately.

One: Humor helps alleviate stress. That Metallica song playing right when it did was hilarious. It helped me stay positive and stopped me from taking out my frustration on others. Humor is not always easy to find in every situation and sometimes it feels downright impossible to grasp it, but a good sense of humor, when used properly, can diffuse stressful situations and lower tension, if only for ourselves. (Let’s face it, some jokes we come up with under extreme stress just won’t go over well with others, and sharing them can make a situation worse. Yes, I say this from experience.)

Two: It’s important to try to find the silver linings. Many apparent ordeals have hidden benefits. Instead of allowing stress and despair to rule, it’s more constructive to seek out the good in the hardships we face, big and small. This advice does not apply to every situation, and no one should put up with harmful behavior or stay in toxic situations by settling for finding the good in them. However, focusing on the light can help us stay strong through such trials and keep us in a more positive mindset that can assist us in overcoming them.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to look back on this blog post to remind myself of these lessons in the future, should I need to. If you have a humorous or insightful story to share, feel free to do so below!