April 16, 2020

Stuck? Seems We’ve Been Here Before

Stuck? Spinning your wheels?

Same here.

The world feels akin to Contagion, Ground Hog’s Day and Lost in Translation — combined. And so, no surprise, I identify these days as mostly stuck. Some days I feel caught, somehow, as if in amber.

Worries and fears abound in the news and seize my attention.

Sofia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation

Even downtime feels like a chore. Closets and the garage still are not organized. Project lists collect dust. There’s been writer’s block in spades.

Of course, chiding thoughts run all over the place. They range from:

Am I the only one?  (Surely not)

What can shake the sensation of suspended animation?

Where’s my mojo gone?

The Art of Being Stuck

First, I recognize the ‘stuckness’ for what it is. A cover for malaise, grief, anxiety and more all rolled together. Many of our tribe feel we’ve been here before, albeit for different reasons.  If we look closely, we can tease out familiar symptoms.

And, fortunately, some friends online helped further validate and amplify my angst. They also asked: How can I write now? What can I possibly contribute?

Their honesty led to a collective cathartic release.  Below are some select quotes. They run a familiar gamut of emotions:

“I’m feeling a kind of restlessness, a sort of anger, which I would normally channel into writing to help others but yet I don’t sense that anyone ‘needs’ my writing at the moment. I suppose maybe I’m feeling grief for my sense of purpose.”

Yes, it’s easy to feel small and inconsequential these days.

Equally, I know inhabiting a place of uncertainty stirs up demons. Clearly, it’s hard to manage in a world that’s removed our agency. Not sure about you, but I’ve also found it disorienting to feel a raft of raw emotions simmer so close to the surface.

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Glad, therefore, to hear this reassurance from a friend:

Assuming we don’t get sick, both practically and reflectively, there are many of us who have to increase our focus inwards right now from a place of sheer damage control.”

In other words. It is perfectly okay to just be.

Liminal Space

Within these disclosures, I also discovered a novel way to see this current ‘state of being stuck.’

Liminal space. Say it with me.

I like how it sounds and rolls off the tongue.  For me, it’s a new term. Here’s a definition:

A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next. ‘ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.

Waiting is something many of us have become adept at doing. So, why not let it work for us, yes?

Welcome your comments on what you’re reflecting on and how you are coping.


Also wanted to offer two shoutouts:

  • The first goes to my intrepid IT guru and friend, Keith. He invested countless hours the past two weeks, during his downtime, to coding. He moved two websites and 13 years of blog posts (512) and your comments (8,022) to a new server for me. I rediscovered many gems. This post, from five years ago, shared thoughts on coming to terms with infertility across cultures and language.

Keith’s work freed me. No more onerous server lockouts Cate Blanchett stars as Phyllis Schlafly in “Mrs. America,” debuting Wednesday on FX on Hulu.and headache-inducing website troubleshooting. I can, once again, focus on writing. And, a few blog posts are in development. One concerns the new limited series Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett among a sterling cast.

  • And to Liz: Thank you. Your email this morning about how my book resonated for you during your isolation was a lovely way to start my day.
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Liz reminded me Silent Sorority first arrived in the world, with a twist on the birth announcement, 11 years ago this week. Deep gratitude to all who have read it and reached out this past decade-plus.

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