26 December, 2012

Getting unstuck feels good

1. I have lived in my townhouse almost 5 years.

Less than a year after I moved here, the sliding door to my laundry closet failed. The door is made of the Home Depot, low-quality particle board (albeit, with a decorative appearance), and the craftsmanship with which the door was hung on the sliding runners was poor. After a short time, the screws holding one of the brackets with runner wheels ripped out of the door, and one end of the door sagged, making the movement of the door un-smooth, and tedious.

Shortly after it happened, I attempted to repair the door by rescrewing back into the same holes with the door still standing. Of course, this lasted about 1 hour, and the bracket ripped out again. From that time forward, I lived with a sagging, stuck, un-smooth laundry door, on the premise that "It's not really that important for this door to move smoothly."

This weekend, on a whim, I looked at the bracket that was still laying on the floor inside the laundry closet, and decided "This problem is going to be fixed now!" First thing I did was look at the problem, and realized that there was no reason, mechanical or cosmetic, why the bracket needed to be remounted in the same location - I could attach the bracket to new holes a few inches over, and it would work just the same, and not be noticed, because it's on the back side of the door. The second thing I did was to remove the door from the runner, and lay it on the floor so it would be easier to reinstall the bracket.

Fifteen minutes later, the laundry closet door was fixed, and reinstalled. Four years of tolerating a problem that only required fifteen minutes of careful examination and action to address it.

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2. I have a lot of guitars. Fifteen of them, to be exact. Thirteen electric, one bass, two acoustic.

Each of these guitars has either a case, or some type of carrying bag. I started accumulating this collection in the mid-1990s, with my most recent purchase probably about two years ago (hmm... perhaps I need another guitar). The downside of fifteen guitars is that they end up strewn throughout my house (and, at various points in time, scattered among houses of various musical colleagues, though there is presently only one guitar on a long sabbatical in the Wedgewood neighborhood).

The result of this has been clutter. Lots of clutter. Cases on floors. Cases in closets. Cases in piles. Guitars on chairs. Guitars on floors. Guitars on top of guitars. There are lots of downsides to this. I can't find a particular guitar when I want it. I am less inclined to pick up any particular guitar, at any particular time, because they're not easily accessible, my place is a freaking mess, and there's an overall ambiance of "lack of  care for my belongings" permeating my life.

About a week ago, I had an epiphany. I am going to build a guitar rack for my room. I could buy a guitar rack that could hold 7 guitars for $50-$80. But I would need to buy two of them if I wanted to hold all my guitars on organized display in my "studio." I decided that building one was what I wanted to do. I spent a week or so doing mental sketches of what it would entail, figuring out dimensions, thinking about materials. Then I went to Lowe's, examined available materials and costs, made some on-the-fly adjustments to my design to be efficient about material use, and bought everything I needed for about $70.

Yesterday, I built it, in about 90 minutes. It's bigger than it needed to be. It's heavier than it needed to be. Some of the pieces were not the perfect size, because of small measurement errors during the cutting process. But it works. I plan on painting it red, so it looks good in my room. And now, all of my guitars are on organized display, available to me whenever I want them, saving my life from clutter. I can put the cases all in one closet, and only worry about grabbing a case when I am transporting a guitar.

I spent years and years of my life in need of this. And all it took was focus and effort to solve the problem.

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I have to say that both of these "Actions" are the result of my practice. And I am not just trying to give credit to an external factor, like an NFL player saying that he scored 4 touchdowns because someone upstairs was watching over him. I know that the work was done by me. But it's this structure and commitment of practice that has brought me to a place where I am now able to get unstuck.

In the past, either of the above situations would have encountered any number of potential "spin-out" points. Places where I would have either rat-holed on details, or become frustrated with imperfection, or just lost the focus and confidence to proceed. In yoga, we don't skip Warrior II because our hips are not in perfect alignment. We do Warrior II because it gives us an opportunity to become more and more aware of what proper alignment feels like (and that may include knowing what improper alignment feels like). But we learn not to get angry at ourselves, or hate our bodies because they don't immediately form the shape we are requesting from them. This "sufficiency" -- "I am enough" -- enables me to move forward in a lot of places where I was previously stuck.

So, to all of my teachers, I say "Namaste!"


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