Being Stymied

Stymie: To present an obstacle to or to stand in the way of.

My first rig trip was at the beginning of May. I met friends David and Deborah in North Carolina. During our first two days we experienced 48 continuous hours of rain. Our campground became dank and drab. I remarked that I was getting sick and tired of the rain. David replied, “It’ll end.” Though I felt stuck, David’s response to my complaint reminded me that “stuck” can be a state of mind. The sky isn’t ever stuck. Stuck is often more about perception than actual circumstances. Overcast skies eventually clear.

I’m beginning to feel stuck in motion. At the outset of my journey, moving was an impetus to distribute my belongings, sell my house, acquire my rig, and hit the road. I yearned for adventure, for not knowing where I’d land day-to-day. Now being unsettled is unsettling. I’ve become interested in projects that I’d like to pursue that would be better served if I were living in one place. Moving from one spot to another has been freeing until recently. I’m feeling stymied by my life on the go.

I’m at my sister’s home in Nashville where her screened in porch is a settling spot. It’s an antidote for too much motion. I unplug on this porch; it is a beacon for sensate freedom. When I need to feel a sense of home, it’s where I return. A blocked state of mind doesn’t survive on her porch.

The phrase “come sit a spell” has its roots in the southern United States. It’s an invitation to someone to come over for a friendly chat on the porch. “Come sit a spell” means to occupy a comfortable spot where worries are less likely to stymie intellectual and emotional flow. When sitting a spell, you can stick around without necessarily becoming stuck. Sitting is a cessation of action that can grease the wheels of imagination. Imagination isn’t always pretty, but it isn’t sticky.

I’ve got an appointment for a colonoscopy next week. I’ve got a light schedule between now and then. Years ago I was interested in A Course In Miracles. I learned that its treatment of waiting is that it’s an “opportunity for enjoyment.” Try this on for size when you’re anticipating a tube being stuck up your backside to look for untoward things that might lurk in the cavities of your inner pipes. I’m focused on making the most of my time and space while waiting for my procedure.

Writer’s block is when one wants to write but is stuck at a standstill. Writers cannot force profundity. The mind can be full of enslaving, stymied, pessimistic prattle that causes the ink to dry up in the pen. There isn’t a patented prescription for curing this condition. What if creative writing wasn’t challenging? Would it be better if it was easy? Writer’s block can feel like a road to nowhere. However, the rain always stops, and the exit process from writer’s block can be enlightening.

Writing and analyzing what has been written at the same time can be stultifying. It’s akin to having one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. It’s wise to wait to analyze the material until after the creative flow has ended. You can tell that creative juices have been sapped when there’s a feeling of fighting an uphill battle.

Becoming unstuck is often not as simple as flipping a switch. The Robin Williams method of finding something amusing in just about everything is a viable option. Williams thought outside of the box. We get stuck because we’re too serious. We get stuck inside our own boxes of perception. Embracing the absurdity of our calculations, suppositions, and expectations is an antidote to being stymied.

We are stymied by our projections. Want to be free to express yourself and to live your life without being held back? Have a staring contest with the stuck you. Write about what you see. Or, follow the advice of the acclaimed baseball star and philosopher, Yogi Berra who said, ”If there’s a fork in the road, take it.”

Published by jmlewisjr

Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We'll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor exact destination specifications. We'll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we'll cross the border.  The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to "Have what you need, and use what you have." As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I'm deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time. Sarla's death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn't need and couldn't possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I'll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I've heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.   I've set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I'll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won't have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won't be able to go "home" as I've known it. I'm jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas. My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I've been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we're hitting the road together. I'm confident that she'll do well. We've previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn't express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving. This trip isn't driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I'm motivated by a curiosity to follow the questions.

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