A Trip Away to My Happy Place

Fight or Flight

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

What has sprung to mind is the time towards the end of my accounting course when I returned home from an exam feeling that I had failed it. It was a situation where failure was not an option. As well as needing to pass in order to get employed and not have wasted a year, things were arranged so that my sense of self-worth was riding on success. I badly needed to prove to myself that I could do what other people do and that me having made very little progress in life was not due to laziness. So when I felt I hadn’t managed, and that I was where I was indeed because I was a dumbass or lazy or a lazy dumbass it drove me into a panic. It was a mild panic attack, after driving home, where I became extremely agitated and a little disoriented. I was desperately grasping for comfort of some sort and it was kind of interesting to me what I had to turn to. In terms of the immediate thing that I needed TV wasn’t any kind of prospect. Neither was eating or even drinking. It was Peter Biskind’s book ‘Easy Riders, Raging Bulls’ about the ‘New Hollywood’ of the 1970s, which I’d read before obviously and had a copy of sitting there. Tales of De Niro, Scorsese and company discussing the Taxi Driver script in an eaterie off the main boulevard in Cannes 1973, bumping in to a stoned Nicholson and Angelica Houston on their exit! Scorsese had been wearing the same white suit for weeks don’t you know. Friedkin wasn’t well liked, and The Exorcist was a distant memory at this stage etc etc. I just opened the book randomly and this kind of stuff had an opiate like effect, calming me down immediately. It was exactly what I needed. I ‘went to my happy place’ in a big way and emerged about an hour an a half later right as rain.

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