4:30 pm.  I just want one thing:  to get to the subway station in Greenbelt, Maryland so I can then get to Reagan airport.

My workshop had ended at 4 pm; I’d been waiting at the hotel, 30 minutes, for a taxi that was still not here.

Negative thought:  I’m going to miss my plane, miss my plane, miss my plane . . .

New thought:  Front desk clerk says I can walk to the station in 15 minutes.  Sunny day, I like walking.  Off I go.

4:45 pm.  At the subway station, the only thing I want is to get the right ticket—or just any ticket—from the self-service machine.

Negative thought:  I don’t have time to figure out the entire Maryland-Washington D.C. subway system.

New thought:  Ok, this is doable.  Not to brag, but I did take 8th grade geometry.

5:30 pm.  Finally at the airport, I just want to get through the security line.

Negative thought:  I can’t believe how long the line is.  Ridiculous.

New thought:  It could be worse.  At least there’s a line.  They could make us stand in an obtuse triangle, or a rhombus, or some other nightmare shape from 8th grade geometry.

6 pm.  Once through the line, the only thing I want is some food.  Is there time to grab a sandwich?  I head to a place near the gate.

Negative thought:  How old are these sandwiches?  Pick the wrong one, you die.

New thought:  The chicken caesar wrap looks ok.  It certainly won’t kill you—don’t be silly.  At worst, you’d just become violently ill.

7 pm.  On the plane, pilot warns there’s a “bumpy” ride ahead.  Flight attendants, he commands, stay seated.  The only thing I want is to land.  Unfortunately, we haven’t taken off yet.

Negative thought:  Bumpy???  Bumpy is not good.  Roller coasters are bumpy.  Are we on an airplane or a roller coaster?

New thought:  This is temporary.  Breathe . . .

“The main question in drama,” says playwright David Mamet, “is always what does the protagonist want.

“Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated?”  (The New Yorker, 6/29/15, quoting 1997 interview in The Paris Review).

In life, what you want can change from minute to minute—but obstacles are a given.  The main question, when frustrated:  how much drama do you create?

Tip:  For less drama, challenge your thoughts.

© Copyright 2018 Paul Hellman.  All rights reserved.

 P.S.  Sometimes you and I talk to ourselves, sometimes we talk to others. Either way, INCREASE  YOUR IMPACT:

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