Stuck In A Rut

I heard a phrase recently which I haven’t for some time, it’s one that we’ve all used or at least heard used. ‘Stuck in a rut.’

It basically means a feeling of being trapped, like you’ve been doing the same thing for too long and need to change, often it’s a job or relationship but it can be any type of life situation.

It’s the type of phrase that people usually use after being in that rut for a very long period of time, they say. ‘I’m stuck in a rut.’ When what they really mean is. ‘I’ve spent fifteen years in this job and need to change.’

When I heard it recently though, it really wasn’t a long period of time in the rut and it made me think that life is basically a number of ruts. It sounds depressing but it’s true. Our progression is rarely a smooth climb up the happiness path or massive leaps on the success tree, sometimes it can be but it’s rare. Some people might view the stages as steps, it makes a lot of sense, you take a step up and up and you climb higher. The only problem is a step is a temporary place and people don’t stay standing on a step.

It’s more accurate to see life as ruts, some higher than where you are and some lower, like steps, but the key thing is each one can easily become a rut if we let it.

Perhaps you want to be a brain surgeon, that is your nirvana. Well first you must finish school and get into medical school. These are more like steps because at this point you can easily jump around and give up altogether, they are less like a rut because if you give up now there wont be a path or rut to follow, you are more likely to go with the flow.

What about after medical school? You still have a long way to go to become that brain surgeon but now you are a Dr, a Dr who could be earning good money doing  job you enjoy, its now a rut. You could spend the rest of your life in that rut unless you jump into the next one. The next one could possibly be a specialist Dr but no surgery, more money and kudos and a big old comfy rut to stay in.

Whatever the path we follow, the universe will put most of us into a rut which could sound a little depressing, nobody wants to be stuck in a rut. The key is to plan when to jump up a rut, what you need to do to make the jump or when to sit tight in the one you’re in. There’s also the chance that what looks like a rut will lead to happiness, many people have given up on dreams of traveling or super jobs in order to start a family. If having and spending time with children makes you more happy than being financially successful then so what? Is a happy family really a rut?

I’ve been in ruts in my life and I’ve jumped around too, the key thing I have found is to recognise how each stage of life can easily become a rut if you let it. Once you can see this, you can decide if you want to get out and how.

So the next time you feel stuck in a rut, take a look at what you need to get out of it but remember the next stage could become a rut too.

 

© 2018 David G Chambers. All rights reserved.

Don’t buy the meal deal

Everyone’s seen a meal deal. You want a sandwich and maybe a drink but then it’s not much more expensive to have a meal deal with crisps or chocolate. So, we buy the meal deal even though the things we really want aren’t on the deal.

So, what’s the result?

We spend more than we needed to on things we don’t like and eat more calories than we would because it looks like a good deal.

It really isn’t a good deal but we do it all the time.

How many of us do jobs we don’t like to buy things we don’t need to fill houses we don’t own?

Some people want to stop smoking but know that having a coffee with that one friend means they’ll light one up. It could be the one friend they open up with. What they really want is the company of their friend but the coffee comes along accompanied with the cigarette.

Maybe we buy clothes to go out where we spend money we don’t have and suffer a hangover the next morning when we didn’t really want to go out but our friends do or it’s just something we just always do.

Modern life seems focused around doing things we don’t want to or need to do because it suits someone else by giving them our money or time or effort.

This could be a recipe for selfishness but maybe sometimes we need to be just a little bit selfish, not completely but just enough to do what’s best for us. After all nobody considers the people working at a cigarette company when they decide to quit smoking.

Most of these extra things creep in without us recognising what’s happening, the first step is realisation. Once you know what’s happening you can begin to use willpower and maybe then you won’t buy the meal deal.

 

© 2018 David G Chambers. All rights reserved.

Jigsaws With Missing Pieces

I’ve never really watched anything by Dave Gorman before, no reason not too, he just hadn’t come to my attention. Then a guy at work suggested it so I tried an episode of Dave Gorman’s Modern Life Is Goodish and the first one I found had a segment about jigsaws. Basically, he found that jigsaw manufacturers used the same patterned pieces just with different pictures printed over them for different sets. He was able to mix the pieces up to make amusing results and it was all entertaining and very clever.  I have no idea how he noticed it but it made for very good viewing.

It was months later while working on a story when the episode randomly came back into my mind. I’d forgotten about it completely and then it popped into my head with a new relevance attached.

Each of us is like a jigsaw. We are all made of the same things but our different experiences and beliefs give us a different picture on the surface. Everything we have seen, heard, read, watched or felt all build up to make the composite of who we are.

The perfect person would have a clear image, mirroring exactly what’s printed on the box. Most of us are not perfect. Most of us have had bad experiences in life that leave us with damaged, missing or defaced pieces. They’re the things people try their best to hide but are always visible even if it’s only when alone and you try to look at yourself in the mirror.

So what can we do about those missing pieces? Some people try to pretend they aren’t there while others try to fill their life with experiences to patch the holes. This is why you often see damaged people with obsessive behavior. The crazy cat lady probably didn’t have a perfect life. The homeless drug addict didn’t decide to one day sleep rough and take heroin. It’s the broken and missing pieces that scar us and when the voids become too big to hide we become unrecognisable from who we should be.

Another way to think about our jigsaws is that people can damage the pieces but people can repair or replace them too. Sometimes you will meet someone who has a piece you like and you might emulate it. It can be called inspiration, success breeds success and it’s the same reason Britain spent millions ‘Inspiring A Generation’ with the 2012 Olympics. Someone sees a successful runner and thinks that a running piece would look good in their jigsaw so they buy some trainers and hit the pavement

The same method works by copying other pieces. I once left a show in Brixton and watched as hundreds of people walked past a homeless guy sitting on the corner. Nobody gave him a look until one guy stopped and handed him some money. The people who saw him hand over the money then followed suit and repeated the same act of kindness.

The final and most important way to fix your jigsaw is through meeting people and opening up. This can be hard for jigsaws that have been stamped on and kicked around but with care you can find someone. When you find that person, you won’t have to emulate their pieces because they’ll hand you one of theirs. When you meet the right person they will give you a piece of theirs to fit into your broken jigsaw. Then something odd will happen, the hole they should have from sharing will vanish. In it will be the broken piece you had but it will fit into them and become part of their picture while the part they gave you will remain forever as a reminder of them.

This is why the people who give the most of themselves often have the fullest picture of who they are. They understand that by giving a part of their jigsaw to help someone else, they will build a better image of themselves.

 

© 2017 David G Chambers. All rights reserved.

The Tree On The Tracks

tree on tracks

I took this picture some time ago. I was on my way into a city for a night out if my memory serves me correctly. I stood on the platform, surrounded by people all going their own direction and as is usual on public transport nobody paid much attention to everyone else.

I expect people looked at me as a little odd when I stopped to take a picture of a straggly looking sapling growing but to me the little tree stood for something.

At first, I saw it and it made me think how nature will always try to reclaim the earth for itself. Right there in the middle of those tracks a seed had landed and against all odds it was growing. Nature literally took root and began to flourish seemingly oblivious to the thousands of people passing by in long tin tubes every day.

I took the picture and while travelling I changed it to black and white, nothing makes a picture look more artistic than black and white so I tinkered with my phone and made it look swish.

As I played with the picture I started to think a little deeper about that tree. It became more than nature trying to reclaim the planet. I started to wonder what we could learn from the tree.

Each of us will meet adversity at some point in our lives. Some of us will land in fertile soil in a beautiful field with nothing to stop our sunlight. Some of us may land on concrete and sadly we may never be able to take root at all. Many of us though will fall somewhere in between. We will land somewhere like that tree on the tracks.

We will struggle to grow, we may never be able to reach as high as if we landed in a prime spot. We will constantly be surrounded by noise and hustle and people rushing by without noticing. We will face the hardships of the year alone. Some of us may even be hit if we try to spread our branches too close to the trains. There are countless hardships we will face during our lives and ultimately some lives will be cut short just because we didn’t land in the right place.

What is important though is that we try. We make the most of what we have. We push our roots into whatever bit of crappy soil we have, we grow as tall and as wide as we can. We accept the fact that people push past us every day, unaware or uncaring of our plight. We must do this because the only other option is to give up and never try. We quit and take drastic action or blame the people on the train for our problems. We either thrive or quit and die.

Hopefully you will make the decision to try, to thrive and accept that people will rush past us on their lives journey. Hopefully you will do this because maybe someone will see your struggle, appreciate it, respect you for everything you’ve tried to do and learn something to help them grow in their own lives.

Make the most of what you have and strive to grow. Be like the tree on the tracks and you  too will get to feel the sun on your leaves.

 

 

© 2017 David G Chambers. All rights reserved.