Rain barreled into my world in Garden Grove, California. Puddles soaked our front yard. Mini-rivers swept down the street. Our neighbors huddled inside their homes. But my mom wouldn’t let a rainstorm stop her. She wanted a taco at Taco Lita and do some shopping at the Broadway.
At 8-years-old, I loved the rain and my mom’s suggestion we go out for tacos and shop at the Broadway sounded good to me. I put on my red, slicker rain coat and my red, rubber rain boots. My sister, age 6, got into her rain gear and we hopped into our funny little car, a Nash Metropolitan which we called the Metro.
We crunched on tacos at Taco Lita and later rode the escalator up and down at the Broadway. Outside, pools of water formed into lakes and mini-rivers transformed to rushing tsunamis.
On our way home, we came to a flooded intersection. Mom, a risk-taker, decided a flood wouldn’t stop her. She gunned the car and forged ahead. The Metro chugged through water that came up to the level of the car’s floor. Blub, blub, blub. The Metro groaned as we chugged forward into the deepest part of the lake.
Suddenly the car died. There we sat in the middle of a lake at an intersection. The windshield wipers continued to whine back and forth. Mom kept turning the key but the car’s engine refused to start.
“Well, girls,” Mom said, “I guess we walk. Or swim.”
Water sloshed in my rain boots as I waded through the lake. Fortunately, we weren’t far from home. Hiking in the rain with my mom and sister seemed like an adventure.
That night, my dad came home from work and said, “Guess what? I saw a car that looks a lot like ours stranded in the middle of Chapman and Magnolia. Ha. Ha. I’m so glad that’s not us.”
His laughter stopped, and his mouth gaped wide-open when Mom informed him, “Oh, but that is us!”
I don’t remember how they got the Metro home, if they had it towed or waited until the water receded. What I do remember is the stuck feeling of sitting in the middle of a lake at an intersection, going nowhere.
Lately I’ve felt stuck on a book I’m working on. After coming home from the hospital last May, I couldn’t get back into writing the book. I had a voice in my head saying, “That book won’t interest anyone.” The voice didn’t stop, “Why even bother? You had surgery and you’re tired and that book will take forever to finish.”
It isn’t just about writing that I sometimes find myself stuck. Sometimes I’m just stuck in life.
Getting stuck can come from many different places. You don’t make a decision because you’re afraid the outcome won’t be a success. Or you don’t achieve a goal because it seems too hard or will take too long. Sometimes we get stuck because we haven’t set goals. We sort of just sputter to a stop somewhere in the middle of life.
There’s a sign in our entry way that reads: “The journey is the destination.” I put it there to remind me that I often forget to enjoy the journey because I’m too focused on “getting there.” If I’m on a flight to London, I’m not thinking about what joy it is to sit upright like a stiff mummy for nine hours with only plastic airline food to look forward to. It’s not always easy to enjoy the journey when the passenger in the aisle seat, a complete stranger, has fallen asleep on your sister’s shoulder. She’s saying, “This is awkward.” But that’s another story. You get what I’m trying to say, right? I want to get to London. How much longer? Are we there yet? I can’t enjoy anything about the flight because I’m too focused on the man sleeping on my sister’s shoulder.
I have a goal of writing the book, but the bratty voice fills my head with doubts. That causes me to sputter and go nowhere. Writing down my feelings of why I feel stuck, often sheds light on what I need to do.
And I know what I need to do. Stop listening to the bratty voice. All of us have critical inner dialogue at times. We also have the power of possible thinking, which we can mentally turn on at any time. The possibilities? I can have some fun with the writing process and forget what others might say when they read it. It frees me from the bratty voice blubbering sassy insolence, “That book won’t interest anyone, hah, hah.” I can tell it, “It doesn’t matter.”
When we challenge and push ourselves to new limits, we get unstuck and feel more fulfilled and experience positive changes in our life.
Yes, I have to smack that voice from time to time. And slapping myself in the head really doesn’t feel good, I can tell you that.