Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tangle factor


"Hmmm...?" Absentmindedly. Busy reading a college textbook.

I hear thumps up the stairs. Must be Turtle.
"Hey, Corn," Sure enough, Turtle pops her curly brown head into the doorway. "You busy now?"

I gesture at the half-read chapter. "Sort of. What d'you need?"

She unceremoniously dumps a tangled mess onto my book. "Can you unknot this for me? I don't know why, but my necklaces always end up getting messed up."

A subtle thrill tingles through my body. Although I never fully understood why, untangling things has always appealed to me. I find it calming, theraputic, and immensely satisfying. I've watched others give up over facing the tiny metal knots, slippery chains, and painstaking patience and frustration tolerance it requires. Oddly enough, I'm not a particularly patient person, nor do I tolerate frustration too well, but I guess the combo of having the opportunity to use my hands in fine motor coordination and the challenge of a difficult task spurs me to tackle every knotted necklace chain I've ever been acquainted with.

Having deposited her job for me, Turtle goes back downstairs, her "Thank you, Corner!" brightly swishing up as she runs down. I smile to myself and push away the text to make more room for me to work.

I lean close to determine the tangle factor.

Ahhh...a difficult one...5 knots in 3 places, some quite large. Bless you, Turtle, you're a funny one. But good. Bring it on.

But it's harder than I'd thought. The knots are tight. Especailly the bigger ones. Each part of the chain loops around, over, under, through, tightly twining the knots to themselves. Each section of chain that I loosen ends up in turn tightening another one so that the knot just get harder to untangle. Hmmm.... There's gotta be some way to get this done...

Thus begins my lesson of the day.

We're continually faced with challenges. Sometimes we willingly accept them, while other times we try to put them off for as long as we can, but it's always our job and our right to try to meet those challenges that are presented to us.

We appraise the challenge. Look at it from all sides. Assess the damage and determine the tangle factor. And then we tackle it, in whichever form of tackling we choose to use.

And sometimes the tangle is worse than we'd thought. Tighter, trickier, harder to crack. We try to take things slowly, attempt to disentangle each section on its own to see what works, but sometimes that seems to make things worse. Frustration builds. We entertain the thought of giving up.

But...Hmmm..... There's gotta be some way to get this done...

Sighing, I put the knotted mess aside. I lean back in my chair and flex my cramped fingers.
When it comes to chains, I'm not easily deterred, but this one is simply impossible. I'd tried everything. All the tricks that worked the last time didn't work now. All the tried and true methods were failing me. I felt discouraged, frustrated.

But then it hit me.

It's supposed to be like that.
If each challenge contained the same difficulty level, there'd be no work involved. We wouldn't have to exert ourselves. We'd go through the motions and *poof*--problem solved. We wouldn't get frustrated. But.....we also wouldn't grow.

The challenges we're presented with are personally designed for us each time they're given. We are supposed to use some of the methods we'd learned from last time, and also some new methods that we need to make up specially for the new challenge at hand. Somehow, that proccess of coming up with novel ideas helps us develop into more complex and special people.

And we don't always need to do it alone. Sometimes we're allowed to call in professionals who can steer us in the right direction. There's no sin in taking a particularly stubborn knot to a jeweler if that's what will work best. But it's not okay to give up because that knot is too hard for us to handle by ourselves.

And sometimes all that's required of us is to put that knot aside for a little while. Rest our cramped fingers. Take a cleansing breath. We don't need to take care of everything in one day. I've learned the hard way that at times rushing will only make things worse. Steady, slow hands and a clear head are the only things that can work.

I breathe deeply. Look around the room. Notice the sun has traveled across the carpet to the doorway, filling the room with golden warmth. I walk to the window, stepping over some unfiled papers that are silently entreating me for attention. A little voice inside me soothes, "'s okay to take a little breather..." The trees outside are almost bare. Just a few sunny leaves still stubbornly clinging to the branches. Sunshine trees make me smile. I watch the last leaves, drinking in their vibrance like a thirsty child.

Feeling slightly more full inside, I turn back to the task at hand. The knots are still there. Running away from a problem never accomplishes anything.

I let out a breath. Turn on the desk lamp. Focus.

I pull a strand. Nope. Another. It gives, but not enough to come loose. I keep at it, methodically trying each exposed bit of chain, hoping to find the one that will release the rest.

And then,
I find it.
Slowly ease it out. Pulling, not too hard, but enough to make it slowly slip out, link by link.

And from there, other tangles come loose. New sections of chain are exposed, now ready to be worked on. The satisfying feeling creeps up. I can do it...I'm doing it...It's working...

Sometimes all we need is to take a little break. To pause for a moment, or an hour, or a day, or a few months, so that we can reflect and rejuvinate and come back to our challenge with renewed vigor.

Every challenge is designed to be overcome.

Every test is meant to be passed.

Come on, can do it... I can do it...

"Hey, Turtle! Come on up, I've gotten it out..."


Ezzie said...

That was awesome. :)

Anonymous said...

Just to let know you that in writing this today, not yesterday or tomorrow, you were the shliach in me reading something which others have been saying but I haven't wanted to hear, t.he message is now one step deeper, thank you

the apple said...

Wow, CP. You wrote exactly what I needed to hear.


Madd Hatter said...

great post, and great lesson. Thanks, as usual:)

The Dreamer said...

It's amazing how much you take out of every simple thing in life.

Thanks for sharing!

(btw, I also am the tangle get-outer)

Lvnsm27 said...

great message

halfshared said...

You know're incredible! Each post is a masterpiece.

Bas~Melech said...

You are going to put me out of business. This post was cooking in MY head since the summer, when I spent a while untangling yarn... I even started writing it... and just remembered it and was gonna finish it and post this week...

Drat. Maybe I'll save it for next year :-P I actually did have a slightly different spin, but the whole beginning would be redundant...

BTW, why do you call her Turtle?

Scraps said...

Life, like necklaces, is full of tangles. But He gives us the tools we need to untangle the knots He gives us to work on, including people to help us when we need it. And yes, sometimes we just need to take a step back, have a short break, and then we can go back to working out the tangles with renewed energy and confidence that He will help.

Right on the money, CP. :)

G said...

"...5 knots in 3 places"

Sorry, I don't speak Knot.

corner point said...

(bows head)...thanks...

What a zechus to be such a shaliach...thank you for that opportunity...

You're so welcome :)

You're welcome, as usual :P

I try. I feel it's my job in a way...
We should hold a convention or something...train some others into the trade :P


(actually, this one is going for a quarter million, if you're interested...)

Write it anyway! There's no such thing as getting bored of reading cool observations about life.
What's your spin? I'm very interested...

As for Turtle...She's just Turtle :)

Hmmm...I thought you were going to comment on the part about professionals...

You don't have to. Here, I'll translate:
5 knots in 3 places.
If you still don't understand, maybe it's cuz you've never met my sister Turtle. Never ceases to amaze me, that child...

Bad4shidduchim(in exile) said...

That was good.

(turtle? like from The Westing Game?)

David_on_the_Lake said...

You have a way with words...
I know that feelng..there is nothing like it..
When I figure a computer problem..etc
But I never had patience with knots and the like..they reeeeaalllyyy frustrate me..

corner point said...

That's funny, you know that book too?
I wondered if anyone would pick up on my allusion... She's not exactly way like Turtle from The Westing Game, but there are definitely similarities between the two. :-)

Exactly. Everyone has their own things that they enjoy untangling

Behindasmile said...

That analogy really set me thinking. After another 'knot' developed in my already knotty chain I thought this is it, I could feel myself getting weaker and when suddenly I realized what a actually knot is - it makes the chain shorter - it doesn't weaken the chain and isn't meant to, but without the knot the other end is further away, but with it, with a difficulty, the other end - Hashem is nearer to us and using the knot to try to draw us nearer to Him.

Thank you for the original analogy.

Juggling Frogs said...

This was so beautiful!

Your sister is very lucky to have you to help untangle her knots, and set an example of how to approach them.

May you (and your sister) always proudly adorn yourselves with challenges met!

May the memory of each success be a treasure, a trophy, a reminder.

I'm so glad Ezzie pointed me to this post. I'm so glad to have found your blog!

corner point said...

I'm glad I was able to help you understand life a little better
Is there any way I could reach you? I'd like to email you...

Juggling frogs--
Thanks so much!
And amein!!