Monday, July 15, 2013

Impatient for Results

Things take time.

Impatience often becomes a dissenting voice, complaining about a particular thing taking too long.

You've lived long enough to have a sense of how long many things take, how surprises, both pleasing and unpleasant, arise, often in the form of something taking longer than it ought or a discovery that an event or goal in progress has happened before you'd expected.

In real and important senses, you've only in recent years come to terms with the impatience associated with finishing works in progress.  In your mind's eye, you sometimes visit graveyards of unfinished projects, recalling the way the idea came to you in the first place and the way the sensations of it seemed to take over your life, and how energizing and wonderful that was, until you'd hit the literary equivalent of the wall you'd sometimes hit in distance running.

That wall came for you at about mile twenty or twenty-one, at about the time when you'd burned off the glycogen reserves and felt a physical sense of devastation.  The solution to that came after some reading and study.  The solution was at once wonderful and simple:  a large helping of pasta with lobster sauce.  The lobster rather than the pasta was the major ingredient.  Eat a modest plate of pasta with lobster for dinner, then be able to run the full twenty-six miles the next day, not artificially enhanced as some professional athletes, but nutritionally equipped according to your own, three and a half hour performance time.

The solution in writing came when, one day, with no warning, you found yourself walking your dog along the beach, mind a delightful zone-out, when you were presented with the answer to a story you hadn't been able to finish and left, waiting, a few years back.  You rushed home, excited to get back to this old friend you felt you'd abandoned.

In this case, the pasta with lobster was patience and the habit of a regular rereading of incomplete works.  The lobster word here was regular, not merely at times when there seemed to be nothing coming.  You knew by then how important it was to not walk away from reading closely and writing every day, whether you felt like it--whatever that may have meant at the time--or not.

You've not had pasta with lobster for some time, the closest being a pasta dish that's become dear to you, pasta with calamari.  But that is not to fuel running adventures.  That is because you enjoy the combination.

Sometimes reading seems a chore.  Rather than spending the time trying to figure out why the task seems so onerous, you developed the habit of finding something to read--anything, until the chore aspects either vanished and you became caught in the work you were reading or the work you were reading seemed so foreign and remote that in self-defense, you developed a counter irritant, something of your own to write so that you'd later have something of interest to read.

As noted in your earlier paragraphs, things take time.  Not long ago, you visited a dermatologist because of a tiny red blotch near your cheek, noticed by your gatekeeper physician during your routine physical prior to having cataract replacement.  

The dermatologist nodded, squirted a blast of liquid nitrogen on the offending spot after diagnosing it as SK, subhorreal keratosis.  He gave you a time line.  Scab by the next day.  Three days for the scab to fall off.  A week or two for the traces of red from the new cells to return to normal flesh color.  Right on time.  Everything on schedule.

Some time frames may cause you more impatience or, in relative terms, less.  Now and then, you might do something to hurry the results, but the things you do may well be little more than diversionary tactics.

Attempting to achieve the Observing Ego condition could, if you attempted to rush that ability, occasion impatience, producing an irony of circularity in which you'd exchanged one impatience for another.

In story and in life, stasis becomes a Petri dish for impatience.

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