The Armstrong Family Circus

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Maineville • Ohio • USA

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On being stuck and being stuck

Thursday August 12th 2010

by Paul Armstrong

Waiting for Superman


Freedom is a big deal. Conceptually it seems simple enough. Unbridled options. Untethered dreams. Limitless options. That is until you realize each one of us is governed by our own history. Our own bodies, realities and rules. We're stuck. While we're not stuck with our lives in all cases — you can change careers, homes, cars, even spouses. You're still stuck.


Being stuck isn't as dire and hopeless as it sounds. It's not the elephants stuck in the tar pits of LeBrea or the men stuck in a collapsing mine. We're stuck like tires in the mud, a car in traffic. Temporarily immovable. Grounded by an unscheduled storm. Sometimes our "stuckness" is very brief. Sometimes we feel stuck in a job that undervalues us. Or a relationship that foresakes our intentions. Sometimes it's a small apartment or home that our family barely can fit into. Sometimes we're stuck for a very long time. Stuck in a failing marriage. Stuck in a body that doesn't function, or a mindset that can't find joy. Stuck in a family that is crumbling from the weight of it's own failings. Regardless of time or circumstances, we will be stuck at some point in our lives and it isn't about the act of being stuck but what we do while we're there.




Waiting for change or help or answers or a gift or love or a solution to cure all that makes you stuck. But you still have to wait. It's easy to just think about why you're stuck — who brought you here, what happened to you, how you can get out. Meanwhile things around you move. The wind blows. The sky changes from blue to gray. The clouds appear and disappear; sometimes with rain or snow. Other people with other lives and other stories that may have no bearing on your own go on. It's easy to say "make the most it", but it really means nothing. It really helps nothing. What I think is meant is that you're not the only stuck; just say "Hey, guess what? I'm stuck. I'm unhappy. My family is broken. My kids can't stand me. My relationships are slipping away. My job is killing me. Life is hard. Is it hard for you too?" It isn't a party to celebrate mutual misery or bitterness, but a smile, a nod, a little sing as you sit in your car in the traffic, just waiting to move again.






Comments for "On being stuck and being stuck"

"That is until you realize each one of us is governed by our own history."

Great thought - this is something I've been thinking about recently but haven't been able to put into words as you have, something I'm not great at.

Sometimes where you are stuck can provide true freedom and purpose in life. I'd mess up what I mean by this if I tried to expand on that thought so I'll just leave it at that.

Sure, we're governed by our history [I'm with Joe; love that line]. But I'd also argue that these feelings of stuck are there for us to re-evaluate things. They're the cognitive reminder that either the course needs correcting, or the old plan wasn't followed, or that the old plan was shit and now what do you do?

I view life as a rope, fixed on one end: our birth, into the situation we were born into, with the talents and flaws we were doled out. On the other end, we're weaving in all these strands of things, making the rope we have. You can't really cut the rope that fixes you to your past---it'll always be there in your mind, even if you "re-invent yourself" and become a whole new person. You'll still know that it's there.

But just because that fixed endpoint is there, and the momentum of the rope that's laid out has an arc to it ... that doesn't constrain you to putting new strands in, taking old strands out, and trying to change the arc of the rope.

I've been coming to grips with a lot of things in the last year or so. I have hit four realizations ... and before I continue, I'll just blog this on my own site. But thanks for the start. :)

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