I’ve written before about the dangers of stress, but I don’t think that we’ve had a more graphic example of what I was talking about recently than the last days of Joe Paterno.
Yes, the former Penn State football coach was old. He was 85, and since that’s about 10 years older than me, I consider that definitely old.
Yes, he had cancer – lung cancer – which is a particularly bad malady.
Yes, the combination of the two can kill a person. A lot of people have died of similar circumstances.
But Paterno was both old and suffering from cancer before his world blew up in the controversy over sex abuse charges against one of his assistant coaches. Paterno hadn’t been the healthiest guy in Pennsylvania before the scandal. When it erupted, though, the stress of the situation clearly accelerated his demise. A guy going downhill suddenly got a big shove. The result was a faster than expected trip out of this world.
Now, I’m not saying that there’s much Paterno could have done to ease the stress of the situation. A completely clear conscience would have helped, but that admittedly wasn’t the case.
As we go through life, though, we need to recognize the toll that stress can take. It can exacerbate whatever else we have going on. It makes average things bad. It makes bad things worse.
So do what you can while you can to ease the stress in your life, whether it be yoga or meditation or exercise or doing good works.
Just recognizing that you may be stressed is a good start.