The ropes of life

We learn the ropes of life by untying its knots – J. Toomer

Conflict is a natural, if not necessary, part of life. The more I’m around it, the more I learn from it. The lessons are innumerable if we are willing to “be with” conflict instead of running from it, hiding from it, or avoiding it all together. When did we get the idea that life was supposed to be comfortable and that any sign of discomfort, change or the unknown could send us into a frenzy? Do the trees quiver at the first sign of snow? It sounds ridiculous, but as humans, avoiding conflict and change at all costs seems to me like nature saying “hey, no seasons this year, OK?”

Then there are those of us who LOVE change – I was one of those.

I’ve moved about 15 times in the last 20 years, changed jobs almost that many times. Partners, not THAT many times, but still…I thought that changing all the time was GOOD. But with age, and a little wisdom, I’ve come to see that that was just another way of avoiding. It’s hard to stay in a job or a relationship when there’s conflict. Much easier to just leave, say “it was them/him/her” and start anew. I convinced myself I was embracing the new, I was an adventurer, when I was really running away from those difficult discussions, or a task I was afraid I couldn’t accomplish.

I spend a good part of my life reflecting on change and conflict, relationships, and the meaning of life…and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that “being with” whatever is in front of me, IS the way out. If I leave a job at the first sign of conflict or change, I’ll find it again in the next job. If I leave a relationship where I just wished he would change and found all the reasons I could to make it his fault that the relationship didn’t work, then I’ll marry that same guy (in another body of course) the next go around.

So the next time you experience a conflict or are faced with a change, before you react by defending (which I would suggest is another way of avoiding), avoiding, or running away, try asking yourself “what if there were something for me to learn from this?” and be with the situation for a while. You may still want to leave in the end, but by taking the time to reflect on the event, you may just learn the key to resolving, dissolving or ending the cycle of that conflict that probably has been showing up in your life for a while now…


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