"Stuck in a Moment"


This meditation on the U2 song, which David [“Bono Vox”] Hewson has called an after-the-fact, imagined suicide intervention for his late friend, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, is dedicated to everyone who has developed a de novo case of Seasonal Affective Disorder this winter. [More snow forecast for this evening in the DC area, tra-la.] It is also about the Gestalt psychologist Karl Duncker’s concept of functional fixity, which Corsini defines [in The Dictionary of Psychology, 2002 ed.] as “the opposite of…creative thinking.”

Consider the not-awful-just-highly-inconvenient intrusion of this prolonged spate of foul weather on Lili’s customary, daily ramble-in-the-woods. Until this weekend, the snow in the forest has been up to 3 feet deep, swallowing up the feet [and legs] of all but the snow-show-clad. The first time this happened to me, I was alone with Lili, who was off-leash but skittered over on the frozen surface, merely to bark her encouragement [impatience?] at me; and I began to fear that I would be Stuck in the Moment until the Spring thaw.

Resisting a $100 investment in snowshoes, I began searching for alternative venues for Lili to run, which were both [relatively] safe & legal. When school was canceled, the plowed parking lots were viable, except for some tricky, hard-to-see patches of ice. A couple of days we slogged through 2 feet of slush on the paved path in a local recreational park. [By the way, why all the empty parked cars in the lot? Surveillance or shenanigans?] One day we bored ourselves silly, running up & down our own cul-de-sac street, incensing all the neighbors’ penned-up dogs.

A few brilliant, but not-really-legal venues occurred to me, such as the covered parking lots @ work, the Mall, or Whole Foods. I reconnoitered them with Lili in the car; but the hostile semiotics of the security guards were discouraging. One evening at the almost deserted medical center parking structure, the golf-cart dude pulled up and asked me, “Is there a bomb scare, or something?” [Lili’s semiotics aren’t all that benign, either.] To avoid further humiliation, if not actual arrest, I loaded her up and drove slowly away.

So, there you have it, from one who prides herself on her non-linear, out-of-the-box problem-solving skills. Apparently, my amygdala has been so freaked out by the logistical challenges of this unprecedented spate of snowy weather, that it has hog-tied my hippocampus. [Note the paucity of posts in February.] Finally, this weekend, with a partial thaw and Chris at my side, we ventured into our beloved woods again. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but it was a necessary journey. It restored limbic balance, as well as hope, that “this time will pass.”

And even if Bono didn’t get to save his friend’s life with this song’s belated argument against despair, he has helped me “get myself together” this winter. Now there’s a guy not much given to functional fixity, d’ya know?

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Filed under limbic system, semiotics, what's it all about?

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