I’m not talking about the everyday things that disrupt life, like unexpected circumstances, a minor illness or injury, one of life’s “surprises,” or a phone ringing (that’s the worst daily disruption of all. I hope Alexander Graham Bell is stuck in purgatory taking every call that’s ever been made, but that’s just my opinion). Those are the parakeet squawks of life: small things that say “hey, I want your attention now!” I’m talking about the conure screams that get in your face and say “I’m not going anywhere until I get what I want out of you.” The things that throw an anvil in your plans and intentions, and demand that it will get it’s way before you can even see around it. The injury or illness that doctors keep saying is nothing and sending away with platitudes and excuses that it’s just aging, or some other nonsense. The appliance making enough noise to audition for a heavy metal band. The laptop battery cracking because it overheated, while sitting on a cooling mat. The beta review that says that draft “needs work” and convicts you that it isn’t quite as compelling or intriguing as you thought (but you need to replace that laptop battery before you can work on rewrites, when your schedule clears, that is --). The contest you got shortlisted for, but didn’t quite win because your piece was “too dark” and “not what we’re looking for” (even though that’s what was in the prompt description). The unending mucus clogging up your sinuses as you creep in the red light parade of where-did-all-of-these-people-come-from traffic for the second week in a row.
Stuff like that.
The thing about disruptions is that most of the time, they aren’t intentional. People and circumstances aren’t conspiring against you, it’s just the wear and tear of reality. Illness and injuries happen for a variety of reasons, from foreign contaminants to bad form exercising. Appliances and batteries wear out and need replacing. We ask people to edit because we know we can’t edit our own work objectively, and they are doing what we asked, which is to help make our work the best it can be. Judges have different tastes. The weather changes. Life happens. And so it goes. Blame doesn’t change things anyway. You have to deal with it.
Which is another issue with disruptions. There is no “one size fits all” solution. Each is unique and has to be addressed appropriately. Maybe it requires persistence: keep calling those doctors, and keep doing what they say. Maybe it requires action: replace the broken stuff. Maybe it needs more space to develop: rewrite the novel in progress, and don’t start the rough draft of that new book idea until you finish what you’re working on now. And maybe time itself will take care of the problem: the pollen and bad traffic will pass with the season, Spring Break, and road construction on the Interstate. Manage it by taking allergy medication, checking out a good audiobook from the library, and enjoying the creep and crawl commute. With the windows up, of course.
I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that the problem was disruptions, and how to handle them. Two weeks ago, I thought clamping down and keeping a strict schedule would get me back on track. All it did was increase my anxiety. Last week, I thought giving things more meditative space would work. That fancy way of ignoring it and hoping it would go away increased the disruptions. This week, I took a different approach: I wouldn’t even try to control it. I’d embrace the chaos, simply “be,” and deal with each situation as it comes in front of me. That’s working. Finally, after a little over a month of fighting and frustration, I see progress. Small steps, but they add up.
The disruptions still come. Weird stuff is a way of life for me, so it’s always going to be something. That’s being an adult. The difference is that it’s not bothering me. Prayer and an actual realistic assessment of each situation has alleviated the anxiety, opened me to inspiration and wisdom, and given me the confidence that I can handle what’s in front of me with the people, wisdom, and resources I have. At least it’s not the life-and-death heaviness that we experienced three years ago. Next to that, most of these disruptions are things that make life interesting. Or at least, that work out better in the end. I’ll enjoy the silence of my new appliance, and that laptop should be good for a lot of future projects when the new battery comes in.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.