I just completed one of the exercises in Martha Beck’s book, “Finding Your Own North Star,” which basically requires you to travel systematically through the sewer pipes of your memory and relive your most colossal screwups and cavort with your sworn enemies. Don’t forget to include physical symptoms like insomnia and chronic pain. Sounds fun, yes?
OK, so once you’ve tripped down memory lane gathering your market basket of mean people, fuckups and prescription pain killers, now you get to weave everything into your worst case scenario, which basically entails experiencing all of these unpleasantries all at the same time. Lovely – let’s go!
My Worst Case Scenario
I’m trapped in a standard-issue corporate cubicle, which just happens to be situated in my high school cafeteria, and I need to go to the bathroom (really badly in the worst sort of way, if you know what I mean), and I have a cramp in my foot and my shoulder feels like it’s on fire, and I am SO SO sleepy. I can’t get out of the cube because my fifth grade teacher, the fire-and-brimstone preacher from the church I was forced to go to as a child, and evil managers A, B and C, are blocking my way. They are discussing amongst themselves the stupidity of my decisions about college, majors, marriage, career and whatever else they can think of and have unanimously decided that I am basically a fuckup. All I want to do is sleep.
Then, they tell me that my new job assignment is to create a 200-slide Powerpoint presentation on “innovative companies,” which will involve benchmarking and compiling detailed financial data on private start-ups. I will have five minutes to present at an upcoming meeting of important male executives who just really want to know how all of this will affect their stock options and performance bonuses. For R&R, I’ve found out that I may leave my cubicle to attend a “revival meeting” at my parents’ church, which lasts four hours a night for the next three weeks.
Meanwhile, my co-dependent alcoholic coworker is texting me with messages like, “Let’s go 2 canada – $1 double shots of CC (aka Loopy Loonies),” and “$1 drafts @ H’s. free parking!” The phone rings and it’s my mother who wants me to immediately pack my bags and go on a guilt trip, and my husband, oblivious to the sorry state I’m in hands me a hot dog with ketchup. I want to scream at him, “After eight years of marriage, you can’t bother to remember what I like on my hot dogs?????,” but I don’t because I’m in the process of horking up four margaritas and a taco.
Wait, there’s more! The last part of the exercise is to imagine you’re in the situation described above (well, not this exact situation because yours will be different, but probably just as wacko) and THE PERSON YOU HATE THE MOST comes up to you and says (and this a quote from the book), “I admire you so much. Thank you for letting me be here. You are such a terrific person, and this is just what I deserve. I want to live this way for the rest of my life.”
Oh god. Are you kidding me? This is how I’ve bee living my life? This sucks. Royally.