Probably the single most powerful…and prevalent…emotion in my life is frustration. For me, it is a hair-trigger, automatic reaction to anything which, in my estimation, does not go exactly as I think it should go. For me, it is a bottomless chasm of fury and despair, and there is no slope leading to it. It is either precipice or pit.
The other day I bought a jar of olive oil, and last night wanted to use it. It is a screw-off cap, and there was no plastic cover over it which needed removal before opening. On the top of the cap there are two arrows indicating the direction in which the cap should be twisted in order to open. I twisted in the direction indicated. And twisted. And twisted. Nothing. I tried pressing down on the cap and twisting. Nothing. I tried pulling up on the cap and twisting. Nothing. The cap turned and turned and turned, but it would not open. How the hell could it NOT open? Am I so incredibly stupid and incompetent that I cannot remove the cap from a simple bottle of olive oil? Obviously, I am and I instantly found myself plummeting into the truly frightening abyss of fury and hellfire intensity of self loathing.
At times like this, I quite simply and sincerely do not know what to do. I want to scream. I want to cry lava tears, to find some way to vent my fury and frustration, but there is no way. I feel as though I will explode with rage. I know this kind of reaction is both counterproductive and unhealthy, but it happens time after time after time. I despise myself for my stupidity, for my incompetence in doing even the simplest of tasks.
I will get up from my desk to go into the kitchen and somewhere between the two put my glasses down. When I return to the desk, I look for my glasses. They are not there. I retrace my steps from desk to kitchen counter. They are not there. They are not anywhere. How the hell could I manage to lose something in the space of 20 feet? No matter. I do it. Eventually they show up…in my shirt pocket, for example. I didn’t put them in my shirt pocket. I…oh, the hell with it!
I cannot remember from one moment to the next how to do some simple chore on the computer, though I’ve done it hundreds of times before. I do exactly the same thing I’ve always done, and this time it does not work. I cannot read, let alone follow, directions or printed instructions without plunging into the pit when, trying to follow the most elemental of instructions on how to attach Part A to Part B, it will not attach, and absolutely nothing I can do can make it attach.
My cat will walk over my 358-button television remote while I’m watching TV and suddenly the set goes blank. I have absolutely no idea how to get the picture back, or what button/combination of buttons the cat stepped on, and I spend half an hour madly pushing 358 buttons in sequence and in every imaginable combination. No picture. The more buttons I press, the more furious I become, and the more strongly I loathe myself for my inability to solve the problem. Inevitably, I call my friend Gary, who lives in the building next door, and he will drop whatever he is doing to come over. He picks up the remote, taps one button….one button…exactly the same button I myself had pressed 96 times before…and the picture returns. “I did that,” I will say, to which he calmly replies “No, you didn’t. If you did, it would have worked.” How can I possibly respond to that?
The purpose of this blog, if it has a purpose, is to let you know that no matter how inept or incompetent you may feel yourself to be from time to time, I will see you and raise you. And I will win.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).