Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vacation Reruns--Part 1

The better part of today was spent traveling.  Before leaving on this trip, I decided not to write new posts while I'm away.  I am staying with family that I don't get to see enough, and want to concentrate on visiting.  I have asked my husband--who is among my most faithful readers--to select five previous posts that he feels are worth running again.  I have no idea what criteria he used, but here is his selection for today.  

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thtuck! (and Unthtuck)

Remember Ralphie's friend Flick in the movie A Christmas Story? He was "triple-dog-dared" to put his tongue on an icy flagpole in the schoolyard, and eventually needed the fire department to free him. My blog title attempts to spell his plaintive cry, pronunciation compromised by the situation.

I have been struck (not stuck) recently by the multiplicity of book titles coming tmy attention which feature the word "stuck." Recently published examples include these:

Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move On by Anneli S. Rufus (2008); Stuck! Break Out of Your Emotional Prison and Get on With Your Life by John Volkmar (2006); Why We Stay Stuck by Tom Joseph (2007); the especially intriguing If the Buddha Got Stuck: A Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path by Charlotte Sophia Kasl (2005); and the stripped-down Stuck! by Terry Walling (2008) and Stuck by Elisabeth Rose (2009).

Others approach the subject more from the fire department perspective, focusing on "unstuck," as in: Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James S. Gordon (2009); Unstuck: A Supportive and Practical Guide to Working Through Writer's Block by Jane Anne Staw (2004); Getting Unstuck by Don Kerson (2008); Simple Acts of Moving Forward: 60 Suggestions for Getting Unstuck by Vinita Hampton Wright (2009); Getting Unstuck: Breaking Your Habitual Patterns & Encountering Naked Reality [With Earbuds] by Pema Chodron (2009) (a "Preloaded Digital Audio Player"); Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: Restoring Work-Life Balance by Sharon Teitelbaum (2005), and also apparently concerned with remaining intact in the process, Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Woman's Guide to Unblocking Creativity by Susan O'Doherty (2007).

I have already read or am reading a few of these works. I probably won't be able to resist several others. Pooh Gets Stuck (Isabel Gaines, 1999) remains one of my favorite children's books (despite one Amazon reviewer's insistence that it is really about constipation, and not metaphysically). You might say I'm stuck on "stuck" and "unstuck."

But why do so many of us want to read and write about being stuck? Is this moment in our cultural history particularly characterized by the sense of being mired? The book titles imply the experience of having broken down on the way to some destination, like the Isuzu Trooper that either was or wasn't "stuck in the mud"--I could never remember which, though the phrase "stuck" in my head. But where is it we are trying to go?

Other images come to mind, from Flick and his icy pole to pinned entomological specimens--though now that I think about it, I believe (and hope) that insects are dead before being mounted. But the core of the stuckness with which we are so concerned appears to be the inability to move. This especially interests me, since the first thing I think of in response to that observation comes from my training in meditation--the advice to "Be here now," to sit (literally) with whatever is, without struggling. And yet Buddhists and mindfulness meditators are also speaking and writing in the language of "stuck."

For whatever it's worth, I am very recently engaged in a process that feels like getting unstuck. I am moving into new places and ways of being. I may not know where I'm going; may, in fact, not be going anywhere. But I am breaking free of some old inertia. And movement is at the core of what distinguishes the living from the unliving. I am no longer quite so "thtuck!"  

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