I was only a teenager for three years -in the cultural sense of the word- yet I managed to pack some pretty interesting stories and events into that shortened time frame. Memories of these events, people, and places sometimes return to help me to understand what I’m dealing with today.
Like the time in my early teens when my photographer boyfriend and I decided to scale the fence at the limestone quarry in my hometown. We checked for guards from several vantage points and discussed the areas inside the fence that might make for good shots. When it was safe, he went over the chain-link fence first, I passed the SLRs to him then dutifully followed. There was an open expanse of crushed lime rocks and dust between the fence, and the safe cover of distant machinery and huts, so we hurried across this wasteland before we could be spotted. The previous days rain had softened the ground giving it a spongy kind of feel. Occasionally we slipped but we weren’t really concerned – until I landed ankle deep in mud then quickly tried to rescue myself planting my other foot firmly onto the ground and sinking to my knee in thick lime mud!
After the initial horror I tried to move in this suctioning glutinous mud; then called out that I was stuck. My boyfriend laughed, realised I wasn’t joking, and turned back to see me struggling to free my leg. His version of ‘helping’ while trying to steer clear of the mud patch himself, just kept putting me off balance and I felt sure I was going to end up sitting in the mud, my whole body being slowly sucked into a white oblivion.
I strained with all my might- but nothing.
What are we going to do now? I wondered, (other than get caught for trespass).
With the thought of the guards arriving I heaved again and shllooop! Out it came.
You know when a moment in your life comes back to you as a snapshot?
My snapshot was me standing there in that open expanse, my leg bent in the air caked in cream mud – without my shoe!
The sloppy hole where my leg had been was already folding in on itself . My shoe was down in there somewhere, and I wasn’t about to stick my arms in there to try and find it.
Fast forward quite a few years and I’m feeling out of sorts. In my morning writing meditation I’d been trying to describe it. I wrote about feeling flat; stagnant; but it wasn’t until I wrote the word ‘stuck’ that I remembered the day at the quarry and started to think about what I had to let go of, to become ‘unstuck’.
Some of you are aware I recently broke my leg, and nothing can make you feel more stuck than physical recovery. Invitations come and go as you tell yourself, “Next time.” and “When I’m feeling stronger.” Opportunities seem to parade by while I remain suctioned to the mud of recuperation.
My work in progress, Unchangeable is in its editing stage. During this stage there seems to be a lot of essential work being done; with nothing to show for it. While this wouldn’t classify as being ‘stuck’ it certainly has a nothing feel about it – like treading water.
Our housing situation is a bit complicated but is yet another area that where we must tread water and wait.
I’m busy doing stuff – but I’m not getting anywhere!
Using the quarry analogy, I realised I have to look at my situation and accept that I am feeling the sensation of being stuck. No-one will be able to pull me out of the mud, only I can do that and great ideas of others might actually put me off balance.
Remembering that day in the mud made me realise that you’ve often got to ‘let go’ of something before you can get loose.
What was I hanging on to that was keeping me stuck and frustrated?
It was my idea of how it should be.
My idea of what my recovery should look like.
My idea of how quickly my editing goals were completed and my idea of how long we should wait before moving.
My impatience with my slowly-approaching-goals was causing me to feel stuck, when I wasn’t really stuck at all. There is nothing wrong with any of my situations, only the way I view them. I have a choice! I can choose to be upset about something I can’t change -and cause groundless stress and drama- or I can stop demanding it to be something it is not.
Pain in our life always arrives when we decide something or someone should be what they are not.
I’m not stuck.
I’m resting and recovering.
I’m treading water.
I’m sliding across the mud.
And I’m waiting.
And it’s perfectly okay.