It was about 8pm on a Thursday night as I walked home from the grocery store around the corner from my place. I had fleeting thoughts running through my mind, per usual, and when I looked forward, a guy was pushing a cart aimlessly in my direction on the sidewalk. I don’t move over for men, so I continued straight in my own path, staring him in the eyes as we got closer and closer. Usually when I hold my gaze this way, they eventually get the point and maneuver around me like water. He didn’t get the memo. He nearly crashed shoulder to shoulder with me until he finally pushed his cart around only a few steps away from running me down.
“‘Ju move, okay?” He spoke firmly with a thick accent, but he gazed at the ground timidly–just enough guts to say something, but apparently not enough balls to look me in my eyes.
I stopped in anger and watched him scurry to the side.
“No, no, no, no, no! YOU move for ME, you PIECE OF SHIT!” I snapped back quick and uninhibited through a clenched jaw, as if slobber could’ve dripped from the sides of my mouth like an angry Doberman. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to react in such a way, but what seemed a bit out of my character felt amazingly gratifying.
That night, and the following day, a blaze of creative energy came roaring through me, alternating back and forth between two paintings about half my size. I had this laser beam focus, like a mad scientist on the brink of discovering some new element or cure. My imagination was stirred up, and the tornado making its rounds in my mind whisked me away. I took some pauses for food and quick peeks outside for sunlight, and a few dance breaks in between, accompanied by random bouts of crying (something that usually happens when I enter this state). And then the light bulb went off. The heated reaction that resulted from the run in with the sidewalk man was only a representation of everything I wanted to scream out loud to the world, to my insecurities, and to the limitations I put on myself. I was frustrated with the cyclical complacency in my life, the scenery around me, the feeling of not being heard, the fear of speaking up, and living by society’s standards–frustrated with life in general. I was finally fed up, and from that frustration came a push so strong, it shoved me into high gear as soon as I picked up the paintbrush.
Let’s be honest, most of us are just fine with living in mediocrity. We complain all day about the system, our horrible jobs, co-workers, or bosses, and our love lives. We post Facebook statuses all day about the horrible president and the tyrant government and the corrupt police system, but our fear of failure or rejection keeps some of us locked into place. We protest, yell, complain, or claim to want change, but when the dust settles, most of us go right back to our reality television shows, pointless Instagram selfies, Snapchat videos, and walk back into our stressful ass jobs each new week. We won’t do much about it, and if we do, we’ll choose to do the same thing we’ve always done, hoping and praying that, this time around, it works. That’s bullshit. That’s insanity. Some of us are pissed off, of course, but most of us aren’t truly fed up.
The frustration that produces an authentic turn around is one accompanied by the feeling of having nothing else to lose.Think about all the frustrated people in history and what followed suit after they decided, “no more.” Rosa Parks on the bus. The zoo animals that break out of their cages and attack people (bad example, I know. Work with me.) Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) in “What’s Love Got To Do With It”. Jennifer Lopez in “Enough”. Hell, most of the women who end up on the television show Snapped (too far?). All it took was that one last straw to break the camel’s back. So once you get to this point, how does one reap the fruit of frustrations, you ask?
- First, we have to allow the breakdown to have its way.There must be a some form of “losing it” that occurs, and this can look different depending on the individual. Breaking down is a fundamental aspect that allows for the release of emotional blockages such as anger, bitterness, resentment, and fear, all of which keep us from moving forward and acquiring what we want.
- Next, focus on channeling all of that frustrated energy into creating an action plan or skipping straight to the execution of an idea. This is what’s called transmuting: changing the nature of a feeling into another feeling of equal output. If we’re thinking chemistry basics, energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed, or in this case, transmuted. The same amount of it I used to be pissed off when I had my moment was the same amount it took to create those paintings, all I did was redirect it into something productive. The energy force was the same, it’s the outcome of said energy force that made all the difference. As someone rooted in imagination, one trick I use to help me do this is to picture myself grabbing the bars of a big, spinning merry-go-round, stopping it, and then giving it a strong push in the opposite direction. This symbolizes the donation of energy flow from one thought/action to another.
Of course, these are procedures anyone can do without having to be pushed to their wit’s end, but as the saying goes, we’re creatures of habit. If something has a proven track record of working for us, we don’t think twice to change it until it no longer aids us in accomplishing the end goal. See, this is why unpleasant events must happen from time to time. Without having endured a little struggle and frustration, we’d be the same person we were five or ten years ago, and each new season of our lives requires a more advanced version of who we are. Frustration is an urgent sign of growth waiting to happen. It means change is knocking on your door, and it wants you to make adjustments–quick.
“If I know that in this hotel room they have food every day, and I’m knocking on the door every day to eat, and they open the door, let me see the party, let me see them throwing salami all over, I mean, just throwing food around, but they’re telling me there’s no food. Every day, I’m standing outside trying to sing my way in: “We are hungry, please let us in. We are hungry, please let us in.” After about a week that song is gonna change to: “We hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks, it’s like: “Give me the food Or I’m breaking down the door.” After a year you’re just like: “I’m picking the lock. Coming through the door blasting.” It’s like, you hungry, you reached your level.”- Tupac Shakur