Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jigsaw Puzzle Mind

I'm listening to Hall & Oates and rocking out. I like to listen to music while I cross stitch; it helps me clear my mind until the only things left are music and a feeling of peace. That's when I made a big mistake. I checked Facebook.

There were the usual political rants as Right and Left called names and acted like teenager hyped up on hormones (oh, those moaning whores) calling "Chicken!" while girls pulled each other's hair as they dragged each other into the dirt. Liar! Cheater! Idiot! Sycophant! Clueless Neocon! Rhino! Blue Dog Democrat! That was nothing new and I passed quickly past the mud slinging and ad hominem attacks wondering once again what happened to civil debate and common sense.

One long time friend posted a lovely kaleidoscopic silhouette of a person saying that when we forgive someone we take away their power over us. I agree with that, but I would add that moving on with one's life is essential to making sure toxic people take up no more space in your mind. That's where I went wrong and my peace of mind flew out the window.

I am really good at putting mistakes and people behind me. I have crisscrossed this country, and a few others, doing just that. I seldom think about problems until one smacks me right on the nose. Suddenly, I am standing on a beautiful beach with white sand stretching off into infinity with the sun shining down with a benevolent smile and the rhythm of the waves soothing away my aches, pains, and regrets.

Well, one regret isn't easy to shake. I've been struggling with a cross stitch project. Cross stitch is meditation and clears my mind. Not today. I've ripped out the same section three times. My mind is not quiet. My meditation isn't calming or soothing and my tension level keeps spiking. What is wrong with me? Where is my calm place? Where is my peace of mind?

In pieces. A jigsaw puzzle of mixed up emotions and memories that don't fit into the picture any more. That's the problem with memory. Can't catch it when you need it and can't sweep it clear when you want to. Time to put away the cross stitch and write.

That is my default position.  When I'm stressed and need to be able to think clearly, I write. Writing helps me sort the emotions and get a bead on the problem. It may take a while and I can write a lot of nonsense in the process, but eventually everything falls into place. The puzzle ceases to be a jumble and becomes a picture, often colorful and almost always clearer.

I often wonder if that's why I decided as a child to be a writer. Writing was my way to think past the hurdles and blocks. I can think quickly on my feet and my tongue is a double-edged, razor sharp blade capable of slicing and dicing faster than a Ginsu knife in a Japanese chef's hand. Better yet, make that a Samurai sword, a katana wielded by a master. Yes, I am that deadly and accurate, slicing through a wick with the speed of thought, leaving the wick burning and upright seconds after it's been severed, rather like the heads in the basket beneath Madame Guillotine still surprised and looking into the eyes of the rabble.

A sword -- or a razor tongue -- must be used with discretion. That has been the most difficult lesson for me to learn. That is what I've learned from cross stitch. Sometimes it is better to put everything away and walk away. And that is how I feel tonight -- time to put away the cross stitch and let the memories run their course as I find peace of mind in a different way, through writing.

Writing is just like that. Sometimes it is better to erase the last chapter or the last scene, put away the pen or pencil or keyboard, and walk away. When you get to the point of diminishing returns you end up hurting yourself more than you help. There are some hurdles and road blocks that will wait until the mind is better rested and less stressed. Words will be lost, but that might be the best thing.

I feel like that right now. The words I intended to write have been erased and the thoughts that churned them up are quieting down. I can hear the clamor settling down and I no longer need to rant or unleash the sword.

Reminds me a little of Gram's advice, "Count to ten and breathe." By the time I was done, my temperature had dropped back to normal, my dander was smooth again, and I was laughing at Gram making silly faces while she breathed with me, throwing me off until the count that began at ten became 50 or 100. She was right. When someone is angry, help them find their sense of humor and the choler will fade to palest pink.

I haven't forgotten why I needed to write, but it doesn't matter. I'll pack my cross stitch away for another day and be proud of what little I accomplished today. I have lost some ground, but I'm on the right track now. That's worth all the ground.

Hall and Oates are still singing and I'm singing along with my favorites. Peace of mind. I highly recommend it.

That is all. Disperse.

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