Day 180 – The Frustration Project
I’ve felt it building for a couple of days now. The need to be right when others need to be right. Standing on opposite sides to them trying to gather allies. And over what? Important issues like World Peace? If only. Mundane, banal conversation topics between women that I’d normally try to steer clear of.
It was a sign. A sign that frustration was brewing and I was mindful enough to recognize it even though I wasn’t able to stop myself from taking the bait.
Then today The Frustration Project began. I felt it in the heavy sighs that began early in the morning over emails full of miscommunication and lost opportunities. I recognized it in my disappointment as future plans and dreams were shattered when it would have been better not to envision them at all.
Then work, full of students acutely aware of my moods. Entering the classroom lacking in energy and barely a smile. Thankfully, the smile came naturally as we read a story about a mother Gorilla who saves a boy who falls into the Gorilla sanctuary at a zoo. I tried to explain the word ‘rescue’. I think I succeeded, but to be honest I could have done with someone bursting in the classroom door to rescue me from a class full of students falling a sleep to dreams of Eid, which starts next week. Fortunately, this was my last class with these students so I kept plugging away and before I knew it the class was over.
In between classes my out breath became my anchor for my frustration, pulling it down out of my head full of – Why this? Why that? Why not? Why does it always happen like this? I don’t understand.
I expressed myself with care and explained my frustration and disappointment over email in reply to the catalyst of the morning, and then decided that one great way to resolve some of my frustration was to find a way to solve a nagging fear hovering just in front of my left kidney. Strangely enough, with right speech, new information and focused out breaths I started to relax into the frustration.
My next class was rowdy and boisterous. A bit unusual for these students, but they had just been discussing the food they would have during the Eid celebration. Again, we plugged through the work and I took on some of their energy to propel me through the lesson. I ended the class having the students walk around the classroom asking each other questions such as:
“Do you have breakfast?”
The students were laughing, some were sitting on the floor as if in an Omani cafe, others were asking me if I drank whiskey. Ah, the fun of the ESL classroom! Then it was time to go and they wished me Eid Mubarak stating that they would not come to class the next day because of Eid preparations. That was music to my ears although being my last class with them, a little sad.
The day finished off with a meeting about nothing that involved me, in which I cultivated patience and began to realize that my chronic insomnia is no doubt contributing to my foul mood.
Finding out later that I had no desk or computer to sit at in our new Foundation building, I simply shrugged and laughed that if anyone wanted me to do work next month I’d have to have a computer, but ultimately it didn’t really bother me.
I then looked at photos of a friend’s trip to Bali and could hear the water lapping against the white sandy shores. I could feel the sun against my skin and pictured myself lying on a sun bed taking a nap. My friend reminded me that I’ve been teaching pretty much solidly since December 2010. It was a reminder that there are so many factors contributing to my frustration, some so far in the past that I’ve forgotten all about them.
At that point it all became clear that when doing a frustration project it’s best to voice frustration mindfully, find new information that can assuage any fears deep within, focus on breathing and remember that while others may point out that you’re not acting your usual self, life is not a stage with you as happy actor, and sometimes you just have to go with whatever emotion you’ve been blessed with that day.