By Dana Gornall
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” ~ Unknown
As a former student of ballet one of the basic skills we learned was how to turn.
The trick was to find a point somewhere and keep your eyes on that spot. As the body begins to spin, your entire head stays focused on that spot until the last minute—until your head has to turn with your body. As you round back, your eyes find the spot again, and the process continues. By staying with your point, you stay balanced, without becoming dizzy, and you can spin again and again without falling.
I think I have lost my focal point.
You see, a bug flew into my face yesterday.
It flew almost into my nose, to be exact. I was on a break at work and trying to get a bit of sunshine, since my job requires being indoors for long hours under office florescent lighting. Taking a short walk in the parking lot gives me a few minutes of quiet. That’s when the bug flew right into my face and almost in my nose. I swatted it and rubbed my face, suddenly irritated that those few moments of peace were disturbed. My mood quickly soured, which wasn’t great in the first place.
Everything has been irritating me lately.
The sunshine in my eyes while driving, the grass getting longer and requiring me to cut it (or get my kids to cut it which irritates them), the dog wanting out for the third time, the sound of my alarm in the morning or the sheets being wrapped too tightly around my leg. It’s silly, I know. None of these things are real problems, yet every single one feels like a personal affront to my life.
Just the other day I had planned to get to yoga. I rarely leave work late, because they are strict about clocking out on time but as luck would have it, this particular day events led to me clocking out almost 10 minutes after my shift. The day I planned to go to yoga. And as luck would have it, construction and heavy traffic would slow my drive down even more. I texted my teacher (not while driving) and warned her I would be running late. She said she didn’t mind, but inwardly I fumed.
Why today of all days? Why construction? Why traffic? Can’t a person to get to yoga on time?
I pulled in with a minute to spare before class would start. Flying up the steps with my yoga clothes in a bag dangling from one arm and my mat haphazardly crumpled under the other, I opened the door to the studio to see a large array of shoes lined up in the hallway—a lot of shoes. A full class today…of course.
Class hadn’t started yet, but it was indeed full meaning I would have to squeeze in the front row, which I hate. No wall to reach toward if I lose balance, no back spot to hide out in. It figures, I thought.
Somewhere in the deep parts of my mind I know I am whining needlessly.
I know it makes no sense to be angry about things that really don’t matter. I know that these are first world problems, or maybe they don’t even qualify for that. I know that grass will grow and bugs will fly and that these things are not purposefully directed at making my day miserable. I am mindful of that, but lately, I can’t seem to nip the irritation in the bud.
I decided to try a kickboxing class, thinking a good hour of punching and kicking things would help release tension. I’m not a violent person by any means, and I am not one to typically express frustration physically, but lately my irritability seems to be boiling over the top. I looked up a few classes on line and settled for a martial arts studio with a free trial class.
Driving in the dark, the GPS on my phone, I went up and down the street looking for the building that matched the picture I had seen online. Luckily I had left early, giving myself and my tendency for getting lost, plenty of time. Headlights glared in my eyes in the dark as I crawled back and forth watching the red arrow on my phone as it indicated I was right there in the correct spot. Finally I called. As it turns out the studio had moved from their original spot and had re-located into an old school building. In fact I WAS right there, in front of the old school building. Irritation bristled deep in my belly as I pulled into the parking lot. Soon, I would be punching a vinyl heavy bag and all would be well.
Except, there wasn’t much punching. Or kicking. There was a lot of warm up—running, skipping, walking backwards, squats, jumping jacks. When they finally directed us to the bags in the middle of the floor I punched and kicked hard. But after only a few minutes they directed us toward running again and the bags were put away.
I left the studio frustrated; it wasn’t what I had expected, it wasn’t what I had hoped for and the pent up energy was still brimming right underneath my skin.
Samsara: the vicious cycle we are trapped in because we continually resist reality. ~ Pema Chodron
It seems no matter which way I turn I am met with some sort of obstacle that precludes me from enjoying the moment. Even writing has become a struggle lately; words that seemed to flow like an open tap now come through in forced bursts, uneven and awkward. Most of all, I see the ridiculousness of it all.
I know I am spinning.
Typing out these words, blank space being filled letter by letter, I delete, I type, I backspace, I type again. I asked for a friend to read my story and give feedback. Something feels off, yet I can’t put my finger on it; I feel like I have lost the ability to write and express myself like I used to. “It doesn’t end up anywhere interesting,” he wrote back. “There’s no reveal or resolution; you don’t learn anything new about yourself or find a way to change the situation.”
So maybe that’s where I have to leave it: a woman in search of the way to change the situation. Maybe if I slow down just a little, I will find the focal point again.
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