Your string for securing houseplants is tangled.
The necklace you planned to wear is a series of crumpled wire balls.
The speaker cables are a snaky black jumble.
What’s your response? Aww, man! That sucks! Come on, universe. Not what I ordered.
You want twine that unspools like dental floss. And neatly coiled ribbon unfolding in waves.
Don’t we all.
With the exception of finger-slicing fishing line, I’ve always loved untangling knots. Like a cartoon character with tongue curled at my upper lip, I eagerly set to work on any offending snarl.
I don’t know why. But it doesn’t make me spiritually evolved. It doesn’t even make me a patient person.
Just a handy one.
Most of us recoil from the chance to literally straighten things out. The inconvenience seems too great, the frustration insurmountable.
But I challenge you: the next time it happens, accept it. And I don’t mean slice through, Alexander-the-Great style.
Take a deep breath and actually deal.
Once you begin, you can’t help but make progress.
Sure, naysayers will hover above you to remark, Looks like you’re making it worse. And tell a story about an untying effort gone awry.
They’re partly right. Rushing, tugging, and forcing rarely help. The harder you pull, the worse it (everything, always) becomes.
But if you’re gentle and loose you can accomplish anything.
Plus, the physical practice of handling the string through all its twists and turns is just like all the phases we struggle through to solve problems in life.
You guys, symbolism has been leering up at us from the junk drawer this whole time!
Here’s what knots have been trying to teach us for millennia:
- Move one piece at a time one. Otherwise you’ll get ahead of yourself and be forced to backtrack.
- It’s all connected and interwoven—literally, figuratively, you name it. Dilemmas precede and follow one another. Over and over. You can only solve them if you’re willing to examine every inch of thread, follow all twists and turns from point A to point Z.
- Since you can’t see the solution, you can’t predict the order for tackling the snarls. Or which will prove most difficult. You just try.
- That said, there is always a solution. It’s right in front of you. But the center will stay buried…until it suddenly isn’t. And instead of a heavy pile of greasy, orange extension cord…well, it’s still heavy, greasy, and orange. But it’s also manageable. Progress!
- Let things get sloppy and unwound, they’ll straighten out. In fact, messes and confusion are practically necessary before improvement. See “making it worse,” above.
- Unless you really plan to change, don’t bother asking how it happened. A better question, the only question, is Can you deal with temporary chaos? It’ll be followed by clarity.
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