It’s said that in order to honestly say that you’ve mastered something, it is usually done about 10,000 times. Back in the day, most of us grew up mastering the act of doing the same old shit. As a kid, I could remember my life being so “routine” that I felt like a robot.
Monday through Friday was the get up, go to school, come home, do homework, eat dinner at 5:30, clean up, and get ready for bed. No extracurricular activities because that would put a damper up my mother’s routine. Saturdays were all about cleaning. Clean the house, clean your room, and of course, change the sheets. If the sheets weren’t changed once a week, it was a sin. Sunday was church, read the newspaper, eat a big macaroni dinner at 1 o’clock, clean up, take a nap, and visit the grandparents where the entire family gathered every Sunday, without fail. Oh, and of course, to eat more food. Then we started everything all over again. It’s no wonder why on Monday we were tired, bitchy, and bloated from too much food and too much family. Yup- welcome to the wonderful world of “lost in stagnation” which was the vicious cycle of doing the same thing over and over and over.
When I was young, I could plan my life on a 2 year, 5 year, and even 10 year planner because nothing ever changed. The summers weren’t much to talk about either. We never went on a summer vacation. We were what I call, “arm chair travelers.” If we wanted to go anywhere, we had to make believe we were going there by watching it on TV.
We spent our days outside playing games and entertaining ourselves. The only time we were allowed inside the house was to eat lunch, get a drink, and take a bathroom break; and that all had to be done in fifteen minutes or less. If it was longer than that, the “call of the wild” (mommy dearest) would yell, “Jesus Christ, get the hell outside, it’s a beautiful day and I’ve got lots of things to do.” If we didn’t move, “the wild” would get up from her chair and yell, “God damn it! I told you to go outside!” Using “Jesus Christ” in front of any sentence didn’t scare us to the point where we would run like hell, but when “God damn it” were the words used, we were gone without a trace until 5:30 when supper was ready.
Yup—it was survival of the fittest that we learned to master in our “lost in stagnation” world. We learned how to use our imagination for the 8 to 10 hours a day that we were literally on our own to figure out life. The day in, day out, same old shit of riding bikes, hopscotch, jumping rope, kick ball, hide and seek, singing Miss Mary Mack, getting a tan with baby oil, and just laying in the grass day dreaming, were the only things we could do while lost in stagnation.
For most of us, the highlight of the day was when we heard the bell of the ice cream man. Lots of times we were so bored looking around for excitement that we resorted to looking in the grass to find four leaf clovers.
By the end of the summer, only a few of us remained true “lost in stagnation” survivors who weren’t in the club of having a family that went on a summer vacation. The kids that did were our idols. They were the ones who gave us a ray of hope that maybe someday that could be us.
I hated going back to school and writing about my summer vacation. Watching the other kids fill up three and four sheets of paper made me sick. One time I was so fed up, that I just wrote S.O.S. on the paper and put it on my teacher’s desk. When she read it she called me outside of class for a talk and said, “Do you need help because you wrote S.O.S on your paper?” I said, “No, it means same old shit. That’s what my summer vacation was.” Needless to say, I had to write 100 times for homework, S.O.S means help.
Back in the day, S.O.S was the motto we lived by in our lost in stagnation world. All I can say now is, Thank God it’s over. I remind myself from time to time when my life becomes too routine and I start to feel like I am getting lost in stagnation by saying S.O.S; it’s time to change it up. And I’ll repeat to myself 100 times S.O.S means help and that is all I need to snap me out of lost in stagnation mode.
I may have mastered it years ago, but I sure as hell don’t want to be a perfectionist at it now. Doing things blind folded and with my hands tied behind my back doesn’t serve me anymore. It’s boring, makes time go by slow, and always ends up being the S.O.S! To all my lost in stagnation veterans, cheers! May we never forget.