48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Essay #27: stuck

In Love on September 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my car lately, driving to rehearsals far away. “So far away… Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?” sings Carol King.

Sometimes I get stuck in traffic. I try to relax, breathe, let it be, but the truth is I hate it. I’m afraid I’ll be here forever, trapped on a bridge over the Nisqually River, with hundreds of noisy, stinky, hot cars. Pierced in Pierce County, unable to move, 40 more miles to go.

Is there a benefit to being stuck? Do I really want to go that fast? In that direction?

The last time I got snagged in traffic, I pulled off the next exit, over the pass, and headed the other direction, towards home. I remembered I have options.

My thinking gets stuck, wedged in a rut, caught in catastrophe. Hear a funny noise? Car’s about to break down. Lost keys? Stolen, and burglars are planning a visit. Ringing phone? Got to be bad news, Bear.

I get stuck expecting the worst, which doesn’t always happen. The noise turns out to be a passing motorcycle. The keys are in a jacket pocket. There’s good news at the end of the line. “Fate is kind,” sings Jiminy Cricket.

Is that true? Perhaps I’m fused to how it used to be, not how it actually is. Glued to outdated thinking (i.e., I should’ve known better). Anxiety wears and tears me down.

Must I expect anything? Is it possible to react to what is actually happening, instead of what I’m afraid will happen? The truth is, I always have a choice. There are consequences, sure, but there are options, too, despite what Fear tells me.

Perhaps I’m not so much stuck, as gathered. Collected. Assembled. Pulled and pooled together.

“Come together,” sing The Beatles, “Right now, over me.”

  1. Expectations can be terribly complex things. Negative expectations can sap the joy from activities and inhibit us from embracing many positive experiences. Yet, that very same mechanism can save our life – if I eat the chicken salad that has sat out for three days, I will get sick.

    But expectations, even positive ones, are very tricky things. If one always has a detailed vision of how someone or something “should be”, it is easy to define that very specific vision as the only outcome one views positively. That perfect meal you planned before the cat stole the main course is something you can laugh about for years to come! Disasters (the kind without suffering or the injury to people, animals or property) form some of our fondest memories.

    Life, as many things, requires balance. While we often need to leave the nagging of doubt voice behind, we also need to be open to the many adventures that can happen when we do. And know that fun can take many (and sometimes unexpected) forms…as it often does!

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