Lose the tension, find the intensity in the run-up to Christmas

Part of my mission in life is to be intense, not tense.

It’s a line I lifted from Joe Torre, former manager of the New York Yankees who handled the pressure cooker of the New York media while successfully managing multiple teams to World Series victories (I can hate the Yankees and still like a Yankee).

Intensity is defined as energy, strength and concentration, while “tense-ness” looks more like a sweaty heart attack barking out orders while the Titanic sinks.

I don’t want to be tense, though sometimes I succumb to it when I start believing I’m the most important person in the room and whatever it is I’m doing is worthy of attention.

I’m not that important. No one is. We’re all but tiny ants moving along grains of sand on a sidewalk that goes on forever.

Intensity, however, imbues each moment, every act, individual encounters with weight and worth. I have only so many moments, and I aspire to be present in them.

Setting a table for 11 when you have only 8 place settings is tense. Enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with 10 family members can be intensely pleasurable.

Black Friday sales are tense. Choosing the perfect gift for a loved one requires intensity.

Hurrying to get to a dinner date in downtown Chicago on a busy Friday night is tense. Enjoying the Christmasy sights of a big city on a dark evening  makes one intensely aware of the season.

As we embark on the holiday season, may you be intense, not tense, too.

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