My starter is broken. What I mean to say is, I feel like a car engine that won’t turn over. Ironically, this awareness came to me as I struggled all week with my inability to come up with an idea for this blog post.
I’m pretty sure having the luxury of being stuck over a blog topic is the epitome of privilege, but the more I pondered, the more aware I became that maybe I’m not just stuck, I’m in a rut.
First, I told myself it was because I worked all last weekend and I was tired from not having a rest. But by Wednesday when I had frittered three workdays away, I had to fess up that it might be something else.
Then I remembered that my nine-year-old son has received three casts in the last three weeks as a temporary correction of his foot deformity. Maybe schlepping to the doctor to be reminded of his neuromuscular disorder on a weekly basis was knocking me down. Very possible.
But then I became aware of another thought I’ve been having – not a thought really, more of an emotional backdrop in the form of several questions: how long this is this going to go on? What is my life going to look like when we’re allowed to move about the world again? Will we ever be able to move about the world again? Covid in general, as I’ve mentioned, has been a productive and life-affirming time for me, but maybe I’m over it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if many of us are feeling stuck right about now (whether we know it or not) in a myriad of situations. We’re stuck in our homes, we’re stuck in the midst of the divisiveness of our country, stuck without a job, stuck behind a Zoom screen, stuck with the kids in the house, stuck with any number of crappy life circumstances that are in our way.
I don’t know exactly what it is for me, but the more I think and read about it, the more I wonder if the sheer unknowingness of everything happening in the world is at least exacerbating my rut, if not causing it all together.
In one of the courses I teach from the Heart Math Institute, we learn that the brain seeks the familiar, it doesn’t like ambiguity, and if there is one thing that abounds right now, it’s the unknown.
When we’re faced with something we don’t recognize, can’t understand, and which feels threatening, our bodies go into fight or flight mode. When we’re in fight or flight mode, all of our internal energy goes to whatever danger we think we’re facing, and when that happens, there’s not much energy left to direct elsewhere. In other words, hope, wonder, excitement, joy and all the other good stuff exits stage right.
Where I was on a flight of creativity, am I now subconsciously frozen in fear and uncertainty?
I don’t know, but what I do know is that I could spend another month waiting it out or trying to reason why I’m in this place, or I could get on with it. Curiously, as a former psychotherapist who spent many an hour helping people decipher why they feel the way they feel, I have learned that the “why” of these situations, while interesting, is all but meaningless. I don’t need to know why I feel all these ways, I only need to know if I’m going to stay stuck, or if I’m going to take the next train out of this place.
For me, once the awareness hits, the excuses quickly lose potency. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a good wallow here or there, or that this holiday weekend won’t find me stealing a nap or two. I’m just saying, we only get one shot at life, and I don’t want to spend more of it than necessary feeling the way I feel at this particular moment in time.
So, what can be done? For me, getting back on track means getting up earlier, meditating more, and deciding to engage in different, more life-affirming thoughts. I need to resist that evening cocktail a few nights a week. I need to bring purpose to the time I get outside every day by taking the time to smell the flowers. I have to bring new life to my morning and evening routines in which I review how I want to feel each day, and where I succeeded in doing so each night. I need to be satisfied with my efforts even if I wish they were better, because satisfaction begets satisfaction and drudgery begets drudgery.
I hope this blog finds you flitting about the world in joy and aspiration, but if not, ask yourself what you need to do to get on with it. Where are you going through the motions and what do you need to do to get the train back on its tracks? Are you in a mini-rut, or are you in a major life-transition rut? Are you going to excuse yourself from the life that is your birthright with a host of excuses of why you have a right to feel the way you feel, or are you going to roll up your sleeves and figure it out?
Me? I’m going to do the latter. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and I’m not guaranteeing success, but that’s what I’ll be up to this weekend…