Jill Bolte Taylor (neuroscientist) states that a body's bio-chemical reaction lasts 90 seconds. What does that MEAN? Well, it's good news as it suggests that any emotional turmoil we may go through need last no more than that on a chemical level. The chemical reaction to anger for example begins and subsides within 90 seconds. That's it. Almost I would say the Answer To Life.
My eldest daughter nearly choked on some rice the other day and has ever since insisted on chewing everything and each bite at least 30 times (including yoghurt and soup) to avoid a re-run of the scary event in question. This results in dinner taking a very long time indeed and my nerves being frayed. My wrinkles are coming along nicely and my teeth (gnashing) are being slowly ground down almost to the same extent as her breakfast cereal.
So how come the other day when I absent mindedly crossed the road to find myself face to face with and uncomfortably close to the front of a fast car: the flash of the headlights, the noise, the fear, the driver swearing then my gratitude that today was not in fact "The Day". Not my turn yet. How come when facing a near death experience such as this with adrenalin and the likes coursing through my veins, after a minute or so my breathing had calmed and my heart beat was back to normal? And I was already thinking about what I had to get at the supermarket? Exactly BECAUSE I was thinking about what to get at the supermarket! Once the initial hormonal injection caused by the shock of nearly being hit by a car had subsided I decided to let it go. Go on to the next thing - the shopping. I didn't continue to chew the mental fat of what had happened, what might have happened, what would have happened to my kids, and whether my husband would have hitched up with the girl who works at the bakery. I just let it go giving the adrenalin the chance to disperse.
The same cannot be said for my daughter's chewing of the cud, or cod which takes forever to be digested both by herself and by me. Because instead of choosing to let it go I constantly remind myself how meal times are so hard and how little patience I have, and how I'm useless as a mother and .....ok I'll stop the list there before I go and throw myself under the car that had missed me.
So now I KNOW from "Near Death in Lambertenghi Street" that I can choose to let angst and upset go and when I do make this choice my nervous system is surprisingly quick and compliant. Yup -- 90 seconds seems about right.
If I can do it looking DEATH in the face I can do it watching my eldest taking an hour and 15 minutes to eat a bit if mash. I CAN. Whether I WILL or not is another matter.