Have you ever felt like, “It looks like there is no end in sight for this”? If you did, you would not be alone. All of us face this feeling of uncertainty, the feeling that the situation we are in has no end in sight. That is when I would urge you to look around. Have you ever seen any one who stood still for ever at the stop sign? There is always a movement, a change.
It is a fascinating past time to watch the people near the stop sign. Most often, there is a certain hesitation at the beginning, an uncertainty. But in a short order there is a determination, a will to find a way. This may result in following the rules with a clear and safe opportunity to cross the road. It may be a case of taking a risk to cross the road, despite heavy traffic. There may be a decision to abandon crossing the road at this point and move further along the road, until a safer or alternate option is identified. But, no one stands still for ever at the stop sign!
Every time I step on the treadmill at gym. I get this feeling, “Oh, my God, I need to go through this for the next thirty minutes”. But, as each minute passes by, it is that much less to the end point, the finish line. The more you persevere, with a clear end in sight, you no longer feel like you are standing still for ever. All that matters is to take the first step. There is a Chinese proverb which states, “The journey for thousand miles starts with a single step”.
The feeling of “standing still for ever” has also something to do with how much our mind is engaged in something that is appealing to us. There is as much a need to keep the mind engaged as it is to keep the body engaged to avoid the feeling of standing still for ever. You are on a long flight. May be a fourteen hour flight from Chicago to Tokyo. Initially, there is a lot of excitement. Then, after a few hours, you hit this mental road block, if you are not busy doing something. If you had a rush job to do and you are plugging away in your computer, it looks like the time passes rather quickly. Or else, you are tired and able to sleep through the flight; again there is no feeling of standing still for ever. I am not one for watching movies in the flight, except on those rare occasions, when I can not do absolutely anything else. The occasional interruptions for meals and snacks in these long flights, I am sure are also set up to get you through this need to do some thing to keep your mind engaged. Otherwise, you feel like there is no end in sight!
You are at the end of the flight, waiting to be picked up at the airport. You are looking for your car, may be the ride from some one close to you or may be the taxi or limo booked ahead of time. When you do this all the time, it is almost a routine. There is no emotional engagement in it. A few minutes one way or other does not seem to matter. I saw the mother at the airport few days ago. As soon as she saw her child waiting to receive her, she ran up to him and grabbed him from her husband’s arms. She would not let go of the child from her warm hug. Nor did the child seem to want to leave the snuggle of his mom. I am sure for this mother every minute that passed since the plane landed till she reached the arrival area and saw the glimpse of her child would have been like eons!
The feeling that “one stands still for ever” is an experience, just as any other experience we come across in our life. It is a matter of perception through our body (physical activity), mind (emotional engagement) and intellect (that engages our brain to do something). Just like any other experience, this feeling is also discreet, even though it appears to be eternal, during the moments when we go through the experience. In all those times, where nothing seems to move or change, it is easier to push through it, by reminding ourselves that nobody stood still for ever at the stop sign. This sense of certainty – that change is inevitable – gives us a hope and determination to look for the alternatives or persevere to the end with the option on hand.
Short and succinct article on the importance of taking the first step in any situation, be it exercise, studies, work, relationships or travel. For those of us who have starting trouble and blame our procrastinations on “writer’s block”, this article is a timely reminder, prodding us into action.
Reminds me of a saying quite similar in meaning: “This will also pass.”
Jay’s comment reflects more on the spirit of the essay. It is intended to urge every one to dig deep and take the next step, instead of procrastinating. If the saying “This will also pass” suggests an implicit tolerance of the situation, that is not our motive in this essay. Instead one needs to ask “Why this situation and what are the alternatives available to us?” Of course certain level of tolerance and forebearance is always needed. If it is taken in this spirit, then the saying would be in keeping with the intent of this essay.
Nice explanation and analysis of yet another aspect of life. I really enjoy your examples
which are common observations we all experience and you make it so interesting!