Susanne Dunlap

Standing here, now

In Random thoughts, The writing life, Writing Craft on March 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I sometimes get bogged down in stupid things. Unproductive thoughts. Obsessive worries. Things I really have no control over, but that for one reason or another seem to matter too much to ignore.

Today, I started out that way. I’ve long postponed switching the platform on which I create my website to something where I could integrate this blog. I’m partway there, but I don’t have the necessary background skills to make it easy, and I’m tearing myself apart with frustration.

For me, frustration is a visceral pain that sits just below my sternum. When I experience it, the pain washes over every other emotion. It completely engulfs my psyche, making it impossible for me to enjoy anything until I have managed to solve the problem or issue that’s frustrating me. I can’t even write fiction when I feel that way.

So I’ve decided that I need to set out on a course of self-improvement to overcome this annoying failing I have. I need a way to be able to set aside things I can’t control, a way to put the task that refuses to be conquered into the background, behind a screen where it will not raise its ugly head and taint the rest of my life.

While I was standing on the train platform, up high above Atlantic avenue, waiting for the 12:49 to Long Beach, I looked out over the semi-industrial, dilapidated commercial buildings that line that main Brooklyn thoroughfare, and I tried to empty my mind of bad thoughts, frustrations, and sadness. I stared across into the cloud-dotted, pale blue sky. I felt the cool breeze through the sweater I optimistically wore as my only coat on this early spring day. I noticed the horns honking, the car and truck engines roaring. I saw a plane go by on its way to JFK.

I repeated to myself, “I’m standing here, now.” I couldn’t think of anything better.

The result? Nothing much I’m afraid. I still have that knot in my stomach. I’m still going over and over how to solve the knotty problems I seem to be having at the moment. But I think I might have had some moments of calm while I was actually doing the exercise. I suppose it’s a little like meditating, which is something I’ve never successfully done before.

Now, I will try the supremely zen exercise of interacting with my grandchildren. I’ll let you know if that works any better.

And if you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

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