trapped in my own mental construction

lifts

Yesterday I was at a conference. A hotel in central London.

Part way through the day I headed for the ‘facilities’ (strange how we invent words to hide our embarrassment of a normal human function – I needed a pee), only to discover that it was being cleaned. I wandered around the ground floor looking for alternatives. A man dressed in a ‘hotel concierge’ style approached and I sought his guidance.  He directed me to the reception area and the bank of lifts, suggesting I travelled to the first floor, where I could exit, turn left, left again and find the required room.

I headed off, conscious that I would soon be missing the start of the next break out session.  Finding the lifts, I pressed the button and the lift on the right of four opened its door. I entered and pressed the button marked 1. The lift door closed and it surged into life; well, actually it dribbled into life, but I could sense movement. I stood reflecting on the conference so far.

The lift juddered to a halt.

The door didn’t open.

Panic flashed into my body. Surely the lift hadn’t broken down? I glanced at the panel seeking the alarm button. I’d seen them before, but never had cause to use one. Into my mind came the conversation I would need to have, ‘yes lift on the right’, ‘yes, between ground and first floor’…

Thoughts swam in an ever quickening whirlpool in my mind… ‘how long might I be here?’ ‘what would I miss?’, ‘did I have water in my bag?’…

Then I turned around.

Behind me was an open door and an expansive empty corridor.

The lift had doors on both sides.

I tutted to myself, gently chastising my stupidity, glancing around to ensure nobody had noticed my tardy lift exit, or worse still witnessed my elementary mistake. I felt so silly.

Of course I have been in a lift before with doors that open both ends. Tube stations, hospitals. Usually large lifts, never a small 6 person lift in a hotel though. Lift doors normally ‘ping’ or are noisy enough for your attention to be drawn.

I noticed how my thought stream had moved from the panic of entrapment, to masking my embarrassment, to rationalising and justifying my inability to spot an open side in a four foot by five foot space.

For a moment, only a moment,  I had been trapped in my own mental construction – the lift and where its door should open.

Now I was trapped in a different mental construction – the need to hide and the need to make sense and justify.

 

under the bonnet

image

I need to arrange a service today for a car.

The number of miles on the clock, or the age of the vehicle determines the need for a service. The vehicle service log tells me what will get attended to for that service – filters and parts to change, checks carried out, along with the standard service activities such as oil change.

I don’t have a service log book for me.
I have no idea how many miles I’ve done.

I’ve certainly been around somewhat longer than any car I’ve ever owned; my eyesight has deteriorated so that now I need glasses to read and sometimes when I sit on the floor, getting up again is a struggle… so I’m guessing a service might be a good idea?

Not only might I benefit from a physical check up, I think mentally and emotionally a once over might be a good idea too.

Is my thinking working for me, am I happy enough, is my life in balance? Are my stress levels right, am I spending too much time in reverse gear, or flat out in fifth? Is my balance of looking ahead and into my rear view mirrors right? Can I see clearly where I’m going, or are my wipers suboptimal, or my windscreen scratched or distorted? Am I steering straight? Is there an annoying squeak in my self talk, distracting me constantly? Do my filters need a clean or to be replaced – am I noticing what I could, or filtering out the wrong things? Is my SatNav programmed to repeat the same journeys the same way, or am I free to detour, to find a new route? Am I concentrating on the road ahead, or distracted constantly?

Driving through life can be tiring, physically, mentally, emotionally. The journey, the destination, the views and sights along the way can be exhilarating though.

Time to make sure we are roadworthy perhaps?