Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We are at an impasse

Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.
There will be no arrangement --
-- and you're killing her!

But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.

There is an unusual reoccurring phenomenon in my life. It is not unlike the day when you woke up and realized that your favorite shirt at age eight no longer fit you at age nine, or the day when you looked at the sizzling basket of french fries in the deep fat fryer and realized that you didn't want to do this anymore. Okay, so I only worked at a burger joint for maybe a month before I realized that and quit, but you see where I am heading here.
It is the moment when you are tired of high school in the first months of your Senior year and are ready for something else. There is something stagnant about where you are because you realize that it simply isn't taking you where you want to go. Just like the airplane that sets its course for the final destination and must make hundreds of tiny adjustments as it travels through the air, lest it arrive far from the determined terminus, our lives need to adjust and adapt.
It usually happens when I have started to feel incredibly comfortable and safe, and then it begins. I realize that somewhere along the way this place stopped fitting, or perhaps I stopped being true to who I am and what I truly want, and it isn't enough to just keep moving forward. It is that veritable fork in the road where I realize that with some risk on my part, I may take a different path. Perhaps that different path is the right path where I will stay true to who and what I am, and my sudden feeling of discomfort is a voice telling me to follow it.
I am not speaking of relationships here. I am speaking about choices. Unfortunately I believe some lost souls mistake those feelings for the need for a different relationship when they have already made a lifelong commitment to the right person in the first place. This is a sad state of affairs (no pun intended) and as you can see this is not within the realm of my topic today.
Where did this all come from? It happened like this:
I pulled out a book that I had not read for a long time to offer to a friend who asked for it when we were making plans for her birthday. It was attached to my elliptical with a soft headband to hold the pages open. I tossed it in my car, intending to drop it off later that day along with another book for another nearby friend. While sitting at a light I glanced down and read the following from John Gottman's The Relationship Cure:
"Our culture discourages people from paying attention to difficult
feelings, because getting to the root of what makes you angry or
sad can bring about change in your life. It can take you away from
the role into which you've been cast - - whether that role fits or not.
"I'm reminded of the Nike ad that so pervaded our culture in recent
years: "Just Do It." To me, the subtext read, 'Don't think of how you
feel about doing it, because then you may not do it at all. You may
never set records, you may never achieve success. You'll wind up
a failure.'
"But I suggest that if you look into your heart and find that you really
don't want to do it -- whether "it" is to pursue a certain career goal,
commit to a new relationship, or go for some other brass ring that
others define as ultimate success--then perhaps you shouldn't."
Dr. Gottman then describes a young woman who chose a career as an accountant rather than a mathematician because she felt it would pay better. Years later she was depressed and her work lacked spirit, and she "regretted that she had silenced that small but uncomfortable voice inside that was telling her she was headed in the wrong direction."
The last part of the book I want to quote is this:
"Fear of changing paths is certainly a major reason that people try
to detach from their feelings. But perhaps the strongest and most
basic reason is to avoid experiencing the very real pain that
emotions can bring."
I wish I had some strategic plan that included building up an immunity to iocane powder so that I could easily beat my impasse opponent, but with some luck, and plenty of prayer, I will find my path again. In the meantime, I feel a bit like this fellow:

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