What a rip-off. Forty-seven years of daily meditation, and I still find myself in a whirlpool of impatience. I can’t believe it. I should have this down pat by now, and yet I’ve gotten myself into a situation where I am truly unquiet: deliberating, ruminating, and basically driving myself nuts to the point that I’m even sleeping poorly.
Here’s the story. By the grace of God, I’ve been able to write books and enjoy the process enormously. I have rather consistently over the last decades met my own demands and produced momentous works that were not born of terrible emotional upheaval. I have been so lucky, so endowed with an ability to express myself verbally. I write my books and articles in a very natural manner, not laboring over each word and sentence choice. Even the rewrites have provided some thrilling moments. It’s an activity I cherish.
My latest project, however, has presented some problems for me. It’s not important what or why. Suffice it to say that things are not going to as smoothly as I am used to. And because of this, because I can’t seem to find the solution to my challenge, it’s spilling out into my life, and I am not feeling my usual, happy, enthusiastic, marvelous self.
Every day that I go to work, I encounter human beings struggling, impatient, pessimistic, and overwhelmed, whether by the past, the present here at the rehab, or the future they envision only in the darkest of terms. I have successfully helped them cool it and change the way they think. The negativity and impatience only result in them making unrealistic demands on themselves and allowing themselves very little encouragement for the increments of their progress.
Because I suffer from terminal uniqueness, I think that what I’m going through is nothing like what they go through. If I’m being honest, however, I must admit that I am misusing my mind just like they misuse their minds. I’m allowing myself to get caught up in a rut and giving free rein to a negativity. I do still retain my intelligence, compassion, and humor, but something is amiss. I know it; Shani knows it; everyone in my general environment can see that I’m having a hard time.
It’s not just that I’m embarrassed, frustrated, and aggravated by the situation. As Shani just lovingly pointed out, I’m having a hard time coping with the idea that I’m having a hard time. It’s true, this is precisely my challenge. I don’t like to have a hard time.
I don’t like not knowing what’s going on with me, whether it’s as an author, a therapist, or a friend.
I like to use my tools, staying in control of my thoughts and emotions. I find it extremely threatening to let go and feel confused, even though that’s what this part of the book might require.
I know I’m a hard taskmaster on myself; my darling friend and colleague, Tali Gilad, just came into the clinic with a bottle of Bach Flower Remedies, and I told her to add Rock Water, the remedy for people who are very demanding and perfectionist. That’s me.
But what I’m doing is exactly what I have successfully taught enumerable patients not to do. Confronted with a challenge where I’m unused to finding one, I feel like a dumbbell, a knucklehead, a jerk who is flailing, and this leads me to a self-pity that will in no way help me out of my creative quandary.
Who knows? Maybe Virginia Woolf, Billy Shakespeare, and Sophocles drove themselves nuts over every characterization and scene. Maybe this is how a lot of people experience the writing process. I have been spared it until now, but maybe it’s a good thing that it’s happening. It makes me more human, taking me down a notch and letting me see what it’s like to be in Other People’s Shoes.