Okay, I’ve had one of those weeks. Major speed bumps, frustration, but also really nice surprises, ones I created for myself without even intending to do so. Car repairs that cost an arm and a leg, only to have the vehicle spring a small leak immediately after being fixed. Computer problems that kept kicking me off the internet and then not allowing me back on again. Hours of techie talk on the phone with me saying repeatedly, “Could you repeat that please? I don’t think I understood what you asked me to do.” Oh, and a TV converter box that converts all available channels except the one that is airing the program you personally want to watch.
Normally, facing that kind of array of speed bumps, I would simply stop. It’s a defense mechanism. Sit real still, don’t move, because any movement you make might just up the ante on further frustration and lead to a major explosion in which someone could be harmed, or worse.
But, I am also taking care of my Mother, going over and fixing meals etc., and she chose this week to ask me some of those hard questions: “I’m sorry, but aren’t you getting really tired of all of this?” A speed bump I couldn’t afford to be still about. And didn’t. I think I surprised myself, and her, when I sat down next to her and told her how glad I am to be a part of what is happening. I’ve not had this kind of time to spend with her before and I cherish it.
That wasn’t the only surprise I gave myself this week. I need that car to be running in case of emergencies. So, I took a deep breath, called and talked to someone about it. Got some very solid advice and got the leak fixed for under ten dollars. Was so surprised at the outcome, that I picked up the Sketchbook Project I’ve committed myself to (and balking about), and in a short space of time, created an image that is different from, and far more pleasing than the others I had been doing.
Then went looking for something to post on my poetry site, only to find myself writing a poem I liked even better than the image I had done the night before. Surprise, surprise.
Also wrote in my journal about how I seem to own a life that is mostly smoke and mirrors and has me grasping at fluttering butterflies of thought, seeking something far more solid and substantial. Then doing the phone thing with two different techies and failing to resolve the problem. But, keeping at it and obviously resolving it myself because I am here doing this thing right now.
Another image, even better than the first one, after not being able to pull in the program I wanted to watch. A message maybe? I failed at the converter box speed bump, but is that important? Maybe life is no more than a foggy blurred landscape and all of that grasping.
Grasping the next moment that might just hold a delightful surprise that opens eyes that were in the process of squeezing themselves shut against another momentary speed bump. Giving oneself the opportunity to see things differently and do them no matter the feelings that might have attached to them in the preceding moments.
There is an old saying that when one is stuck (maybe stilled), the only thing to do is to move. That might mean moving oneself physically, but it can also mean moving oneself mentally, emotionally, psychologically, or even spiritually. Change your view, your perspective on, or of, whatever you’ve been trying to stare down in those moments of stillness. Get on with the next moment and then maybe, the rest of your life. It happens only one moment at a time.
For me, that most often means picking up a pen, either to write or doodle. Makes no difference which I choose because it all moves me to a different place, a new moment, and sometimes the best of surprises. The best part of all of that is that I can then be grateful for the speed bumps as well as the accomplishments they moved me toward.
So, yes, I’ve had one of those weeks. Yet, looking back on it, I find a balance that I might have missed had I kept my eyes closed when the car sprung a leak, or the computer didn’t want to cooperate with my plans. And I have decided that I might never conquer the converter box, but I really don’t want to be that couch potato only seeing what others want me to see and never finding my own solid moments. The ones in which I know that I am truly alive and stumbling into clear moments that almost seem gift-wrapped just for me.
What do you do when you hit a speed bump? Stop altogether, squeeze your eyes tight against the obvious frustration, or look around and find an alternative path? These are the moments that belong only to you. What do you do with them? Do you find those surprises and then celebrate your ability to do so?