|FLIP IT: THE POWER IN TURNING YOUR WRITING OR YOUR LIFE UPSIDE DOWN|
March 31, 2012
This is not just about me in the shower; it's about how frustration can be freedom in disguise, creatively and otherwise. It's also not just about razors, but that's where it starts.
For the last several days, I've been annoyed with my razor. I just put in a new blade cartridge last week--an AWESOME one, with superpower triple blades and an aloe strip culled by Atlantian water nymphs--but on Thursday when I went to use it in the shower, it didn't work very well. Annoyed, but knowing I'd be wearing long sleeves, I let it go.
Today, I tried again. Inspired by a clear patch of blue sky and some sunshine, I thought it might be nice to have a clear patch of calf to go with it. And that razor barely worked. Again. So of course, I cursed the razor and its shoddy Atlantian craftsmanship (craftsnymphship?). Then I cursed my shower with its limited hot water tank. Then I reprimanded myself for not being a full blown hippie and for shaving anything at all.
As I pondered what next to curse ("Someone Must Be Blamed, and Someone Must Be Guilty": a topic for therapy next week), I remembered a shower scene from earlier in the week. Dropping the razor on the tub floor. The blade cartridge falling off. Reattaching it.
Then I suspected. I looked. I confirmed: the blades were upside down. I might have blushed, but I was the only one in my shower, so you'll never know. I flipped the cartridge, and like magic (or physics, or you know, whatever), it worked perfectly.
I apologized to my razor. And to myself.
Immediately, I saw the metaphor. I mean I was living the metaphor. What if I'm using other items or attitudes or characters or plots upside down? What if that's why they're not working? Now I am so excited for my writing date tomorrow. I will bring that question and be ready to turn my manuscript upside down and inside out. Or at least ask myself if there's a whole different way to do something that feels stuck in it. I have at least two good ideas already.
I'm also excited to apply this to my life. After a week of unexpected frustrations, I'm starting to see how flipping some things around might actually be to my benefit. For instance, how the beureaucratic nonsensical removal of one teaching gig actually makes space for my teaching to blossom in a whole new way. Pretty rad. Of course this isn't an original lesson, but, like lessons do, it's arriving again, just when I need it, in a new outfit. And might I just say, really flattering tube top there, lesson!
Another interesting subset of the razor metaphor is that it still worked, a little bit, upside down. I was going along for a few days, mildly frustrated, getting paltry results, but results nonetheless. How many of us go through not only our writing, but our lives, just like that? Having accepted a low grade buzz of frustration, accomplishing only a tiny bit of what we're intending, and cursing ourselves, our work, our bodies, our appliances, our computers? Whoa.
Then, often, we get to breaking points. Life gets so hairy (sorry for that, everyone), that it forces us to do something about it.
What if instead of letting ourselves get to breaking points, we took frustration as a wake up call, a clue, a cue to do something different? Instead of slapping away the hand of our proverbial little brother poking us from the back seat of the car, what if we turned around and asked whatever is frustrating us, what do you want? What do you need? What's your major malfunction?
And it might just be a matter of flipping some cartridge around, playing a game of farm animal bingo, passing back some juice, pulling off of the highway so everyone can relieve themselves at the rest stop.
Relief. Rest. Stop.
Now then, how might you do that for yourself or your writing right now? What's been bugging you? Are you using it upside down? How can you flip it so it works to your advantage?