Frustrating Can Be Good

Yesterday morning I discovered my driver’s side window was busted. Well, it’s not like it was a total surprise. While up in the frozen tundra of Idaho, I tried to roll down said window, but because it was so cold the window was frozen in place and the machine continued on rolling. Anyway, of all the windows to break that’s the one I MUST have, so I took it into a shop.

Unfortunately nearly everyone including the BFF is out of town for the holidays, so I had to catch the bus, which also unfortunately is a brisk 15 minute walk from the shop. Mind, it’s been blizzarding here non-stop because of the boot fiasco (I have this curse making it impossible to buy any boots. They’re either out of stock, too small, too big, or most recently get damaged before they got shipped and happen to be the last pair…..) I’m walking in my work shoes, not super conducive to snow.

Charlie Brown Snow

But I knew I was in for this, so I sucked it up and walked, grinning at the other unfortunate souls as we passed each other by walking in the blizzard. I prayed super hard that I wouldn’t miss the bus (as it takes 15 minutes for the next one to roll by). Just as I was getting close to the stop, it rolled by me. Ack! Fortunately the kind lady on the bus thought I might be wanting to get on and waited at the stop.

It’s odd how you don’t realize how cold you are until you’re blasted with heat. I sat back in my chair, grateful I wasn’t walking out in the blizzard anymore. And the bus stops right outside my complex, so any further chill would be short-lived.

The BFF said I could borrow her car while she was on her family’s Christmas trip to Cabo (yep, super jealous!). But there was one problem in my way, her brother’s truck. He’d parked it behind her car so I could get mine out that morning. Now I had to move it. I suspected it would be a stick shift. Indeed it was.

stick shift

Now it’s not that I don’t know how to drive a stick shift. I just rarely do, so when the opportunity comes up I feel a little anxious, especially when it comes to a truck. Anyways, I fired the thing up and searched for the parking brake.

Here’s the thing…. The truck is a Toyota SR5. I’m told a lot of Toyotas be they trucks or SUVs have this same awful handbrake. I’m sure some of you know the one: looks like the end of a golf putter with a little button underneath? Supposedly you just push the button, twist, pull and abracadabra, brake released.

Nope. Despite my twisting, pushing, pulling, turning (all of it gentle by the way) this parking brake says, “Oh, no, I ain’t moving!” To top it off, by the end of it the thing feels quite loose. I’m worried I might have damaged it. So I’m staring out the windshield at the BFFs car thinking, oh great, now how am I going to get to Kung Fu let alone anywhere else with this hunk of metal stuck behind her car.

Here’s where the lesson comes in, which can easily apply to writing or any other problem you face. It was later better realized that night when my sifu (Chinese for ‘master) at Kung Fu said, “Just like in kung fu, in life, never take a problem head on. Come at it from a different angle and it all works out.” I could really start a whole series called Stuff My Sifu Says. I just may.

The problem was the truck was behind the car I needed. The head on solution was moving the truck. But, using the brains God gave me, I thought, this garage is big enough. I’ll just do a 20 point nudge. Abandoning the truck completely, I cleared as much space in front of the BFF’s car as I could, and began the careful work of moving the car from one side of the garage to each other by backing up and angling forward.

It took less time than I thought, but I moved the car over and now had freedom to drive to Kung Fu or wherever I wanted. It solved my problem, but not in the way I had initially expected.

Sometimes when I encounter a problem, I just want to do this…

So can it go with writing. Sometimes we attack our problems the same way we always have, only to end up frustrated or with a mediocre scene. Instead, take a brief pause, look at the problem and see if there isn’t another way you can approach it. Come at it from a different angle. There’s always another way to solve a problem, we just have to be patient enough and open-minded enough to see it.

That’s not saying it will be easy, or any kind of delight. I was already frustrated and furious about having to walk in the cold and then added upon spending a fruitless half hour trying to get that dumb truck to move. It’s turning into quite the snowy lump, though at the moment, it really isn’t my problem. 😉

How about you? Have you ever had a problem that seemed impossible to defeat, but when you changed your approach is suddenly became manageable, whether in life or in writing? What do you do when you come to a roadblock in your story? Let me know below.

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9 thoughts on “Frustrating Can Be Good

  1. Sounds like a rough day. For me, it depends on the problem. I usually will try to do something to calm me down first before approaching the problem again. Hot chocolate or herbal tea tends to work wonders. 😉

    Sounds like you have a great BFF. I’m glad you were able to find a way around your problem, and it’s good that you are able to see a writing lesson in it.

    • It’s really my sifu’s doing. When he said don’t take a problem head on, I immediately thought about the car. He’s always relating life to kung fu. But hot chocolate certainly would have helped!

  2. *weeping dramatically* I don’t know how you can live without boots. I LOVE BOOTS. If I wasn’t dirt poor, I’d have more than two pair. Or maybe not because I’m EXTREMELY picky.

    I love this post by the way. I’m extremely frustrated right now and will N.E.V.E.R. take anything for granted. I’m having to learn to do most everything a different way and with much more distraction and chaos.

    I LOVE your advice to tackle problems from a different direction and not head on. I’m going to remember this one with my own writing! And day to day chaos, lol. 😉 You should definitely do a whole series on things you learned from your master. I especially love to read your take on it and how you applied it.

    P.S. Sorry you had to walk in a blizzard. Without boots. :/

    • Daphne, the things that kills me is I’ve tried acquiring boots and lost 3 times! The first two it was wrong sizes and ultimately no on that boot. The third it was out of stock until I finally found one in my size only to have the company email me and say oh, sorry, we damaged the last pair of that size so did you want a refund? No, I want my @#$% boots! Well, hopefully Zappos won’t let me down. I’m like you, super picky, so when I finally find what I want, I want it. Now.

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