Sunday, January 16, 2011

Taking My Own Advice

I have written before about the difficulty I have in taking good advice, specifically good advice about writing. As you may suspect, I have that problem in other areas of life, too, sometimes to ridiculous extremes.

As the kind of person who puts the "critical" in "critical thinking," I have a hard time accepting that carrying out an imperfect solution, which most solutions are, will actually be better than pointing out, ad nauseam, all the ways in which said solution will fall short of perfection.

However, I'm learning. During a particularly busy, tiring, and blues-inducing spell in December, I thought, "If I were offering advice to someone else, I'd suggest that that person listen to upbeat songs to feel better." It took me a few days before I thought, "I wonder what would happen if *I* tried that." Not "someone else" -- me. I. This person, here.

Well. It worked. Of course. I cheered up considerably. I've tried it again just recently: still working.

Fortunately, the lag time between giving such excellent advice and TAKING IT, ALREADY, seems to be shortening.

On Friday, the guy who was supposed to come fix the pump didn't come. Water can't get from the well into the cistern in the house.* The cistern is two-thirds empty. Pump repair people in this country apparently don't work on Saturdays. So I was looking at a water-rationed weekend. Showers? Questionable. For the too many-th day in a row.

Obviously an untenable situation.

Fortunately, by the time Mr. Pump Man didn't show, I had an answer at the ready. Earlier, as I sat staring into my morning coffee, hoping for consciousness, I had thought, "Boy, someone in this situation could drag their husband on a date. They could go to a hotel in town, have dinner out, and watch some cable TV. For some people, that would be a really good solution."** And then I went, "Whoa."

In that moment, I became that someone.

So late in the day, we went to town, literally and figuratively. A plate of chicken souvlaki, two showers, three-and-a-half (new to me but rerun) episodes of Criminal Minds, and several hours of sleep later, and I could face the other half of a water-rationed weekend with equanimity.

Obviously, we can't afford to do that if the pump tech doesn't show up on Monday. Plus, I actually like living in our house. I like it a whole lot, in fact. A hotel long-term would not be nearly as much fun. But, imperfect solution though it was, it worked for the weekend.

As the adrenaline from holidays, various family illnesses, and the Tucson shooting slowly works itself out of my system, I'm turning back (again) to the creative stuff. I'm even wondering, explicitly, what advice I can give myself that will help me finish this one recalcitrant story. What would I tell me, if I were someone else?

Progress. Baby steps, imperfect ones, but steps nevertheless along a creative path.

*For those of you who tend to think of water in terms of "water appears when you turn on the tap," let's just say that it's more complicated out here in the country. If you're extremely interested in hearing me whine about the water system in our house, you can read this.

** Do I not dream big on behalf of the "someones" to whom I mentally give advice? I do, indeed.