Archive for November 25th, 2021

No Stress, No Life! We Stressed, Therefore We Exist

November 25, 2021


Our ancestors were so stressed, one could say stress was their natural mental state: should they fail, they would be eaten... which was even more stressful. Our ancestors were also very smart, and getting even more so perpetually. Handling stress ever better had everything to do with it… What is “stress”? The notion started as the stress tensor in mechanics and blossomed through an emotional metaphor invented in Middle Age France [1]. Since then “stress” has taken negative connotations… but that is from superficial interpretations of what stress brings.    

It turns out that stress brings everything. The construction of a heart’s valves inside an embryo requires (mechanical) stress (published November 2021, peer reviewed). Actually all morphogenesis is about stress entangled with genetics. Thus stress can be a good, and so constructive, that we owe out existence to stress. 

Thus, when people deplore “stress” it is rather strange. And actually we see plenty of people deliberately engaging in stressful activities, like climbing mountains without any safety except an excellent neurology (I have engaged in this myself… all too much). It is as if stress was necessary to live a full neurological life. And it is! Without enough stress, of the right sort, people miss out big on all what life can be. I generally over-stress myself, several times a week… So-called “weekend warriors” would know what I mean…

That traverse in Yosemite on the Half Dome north face regular route has no protection (except if one wants to stuff mechanical devices in the crack, but that would require much more effort and time, and a supplementary belay at the end of the ledge…. That sounds safer, and yet, the more time and belays, the more one is exposed to things which can go very wrong, like a hail bearing, lightning streaked thunderstorms, and, if not that, one may have to spend one more night on the mountain exposed to the elements, discomfort, thirst… BTW, I was there… But with a rope. Not that one is not in extreme danger, as one could get killed falling, rope or not rope, by the shock or the rope breaking, or the partner following… So one is very stressed. No false move, no moves generating fatigue, etc. Besides, in the interest of speed, one needs to be real concentrated, one is one mile off the deck here, all in one long day, and did I mention quakes? I experienced once a 6 Richter quake in Yosemite… By the way, the climbing just above the visible flake is very hard if one does it free, especially “on sight”. 5-13/8 something delicate face climbing (sometimes it can be aided… not always if one does not have the necessary equipment… which I never brought…) Memories of past stress is a delightful thing… most of the time, but not when one got nearly killed in a very blatant way, of course…

Thus, when people complain about “stress” it may be just from having not enough stress. Maybe stress is like sex: it needs to conclude. In the wild, though millions of years, stress was about being versus horrible death, being eaten alive. So “stress” means fight or flight. Now “stress” may mean one is sitting behind a desk, as one’s prospects in the oligarchy collapse.

But not just that: fight or flight is good… because it stresses the physiology. And even more, stresses the psychology… And that’s good, to live life in full, the way our species is ( the so called “phenotype”).   

Let me explain more: suppose one never exercises. Could one stand up? No. 

Astronauts coming out of the ISS are put on stretchers. Does that mean that standing up is injurious? No. It means simply one gets injured by standing up, when one has not stood up enough. This holds true physically, just as it holds true for human rights.

Prehistoric people were subjected to continual stress. It is as natural as streams of photons. But, without natural light, animals do not learn to see correctly. Same with stress.

Reality inflicts stress on the mind. That’s how and why the mind learns.

And wisdom is? Wisdom is not a being, but a process, embracing better the nature of reality. To embrace better one needs to have better neural networks… and that requires energy to build those networks (and demolish older ones, not as appropriate…)

And it is intrinsically stressful, to force new neural networks, one has to be motivated by fear, greed, thirst, hunger and other strong emotions… and yet, a good thing; the brain needs to exert.

Developing embryos, such as this zebrafish, rely on physical forces to sculpt them into the correct forms, as they grow. 

Morphogenesis and neurogenesis need stress!

No stress, no life!

No stress, no mental supremacy! [2]

Thus, no humanity!

Va de retro, sleepy minds!

Patrice Ayme

***

[1]. Stress, starting circa 1300, was used to mean “hardship, adversity, force, pressure,” through Old French  estrece “narrowness, oppression,” meta-imaging from Latin strictus “tight, compressed, drawn together,” past participle of stringere “draw tight”.

***

[2] Black Lies Matter types object deeply to lots of words and notions, especially “supremacy”… They apparently opt for a world where all are inferior… except their masters, of course, the ones who own media and universities… So I added “supremacy”, just in the hope of stressing them out, as a community service, to help them improve their otherwise opposite-of-supreme minds…


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