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A Parable About Stress and Stress Management

Ug and Grog Live in Peace

Ug and Grog were wise and respected clan leaders of Neanderthal tribes in sub-Saharan Africa.  Their respective clans lived in peace in caves separated by approximately one mile of lush green land, full of berries, roots and delicious deer and bison (which, during a semi-developed-brainstorming session last hot season, they realized could be roasted over fire, exponentially increasing the yum factor).

Something Is Changing

One morning, around one and a half million years ago, Ug and Grog were simultaneously shaken from their restful slumbers by a frigid wind blowing from the east.  Startled, they rushed out of their caves and were terrified by the sight of countless tiny white strange leaves falling from the sky painting the world in a hue as alabaster as a mammoth’s tusk.  

Instinctively, they ran to their meeting place (where they would sometimes share the delicious brown drink brought by their friend the Java Man) and through a series of grunts and head slaps, realized the one was as scared and confused as the other. Finding no answers, Ug and Grog ran back to their caves.

As they sprinted back, both Ug and Grog noticed that the white was getting thicker and thicker and it would crunch beneath them and make their feet numb and their bodies shiver.  When they finally arrived at their respective homes, the white crunch was high as an eagle’s egg.

Ug and Grog Adapt

Upon returning to his cave Ug, fearing the rising white crunch, immediately ordered the men in his clan to hunt as much as they could as quickly as they could.  He told the women to gather all the fruits, berries and roots they could find as well as to gather a large supply of wood for the fire.  He also instructed a small group to stay behind and fashion the thickest hides into a barrier to fasten to the mouth of the cave, hopefully to hide from the sight of the white crunch. Although the clan, to a Neanderthal, were terrified of the rising white crunch, they responded to the plan of their leader and each set off to complete their assigned task.

Grog, however, upon his return was stricken with panic and ran to the back of his cave, grabbing as many animal hides as he could to hide beneath, hopefully to avoid the notice of the growing white crunch.  Seeing their leader so cowed, the fear among the clan turned to panic as everyone began to fight for the thickest hides and the most protective spots afforded by the cave.

Outlasting the Winter & Beyond

Within two cycles of the dark, the rising crunch had swallowed the world and neither clan could exit their caves.  

Ug’s clan was protected from the white crunch, they feasted on the hunt, played board games (which consisted of breaking slabs of wood over each other’s heads), and learned not to fear the white crunch.  In fact, the wise-Neanderthal of the group, Ugstein, discovered that if you heat the white crunch over the fire in a gourd, it turns into lake drink, and if you squeeze the juice of berries over a white crunch ball and hold it in a rolled up papyrus leaf , it makes a tasty white crunch cone. Grog’s fate was, however, quite different.  As the days went by, sickness and starvation gripped his clan, and the first to be eaten was Grog himself.  

The story does have a happy ending though. When the warm season came again, and after the white crunch slowly disappeared, Ug completed an amicable takeover of the remains of Grog’s clan and was able to fold the new Neanderthal-el into his operations seamlessly.  In fact, Partnering with the Java Man, he transformed Grog’s old cave into a new business venture in which, for the price of a slab of deer meat, a Neanderthal could sit on a rock and enjoy some of the Java Man’s brown drink for hours at a time. He called it Ugbucks.