Second Only to the Nobel Prize

It’s a problem I face only a few times a year.

Nonetheless, I find myself resisting solving it, perhaps for reasons beyond how it tests my patience.

Namely, the wind chimes that my friend Pam gave me as a sweet memorial gift when Belle went to her heavenly reward desperately require untangling. 

You see, the chimes hang from the maple tree on my terrace year round.

During the temperate months, when struck by the breeze, I’m always delighted by their soothing, melodic refrains.

There’s even a medallion in the center inviting us to think of the chimes as a reminder of someone being always present in your heart.

It’s all very lovely…yet after a few months, as you can see, they are an utterly tangled mess.

In the spirit of synchronicity, this week as Vlad and I began our springtime gardening adventures, I drew the Angel of Clarity.

I like its advice very much:

Clear your perception
free of confusion.
Focus on intent and
straightforward expression.
See the world as it is
without your projections,
judgments, and assumptions.

That, plus my wind chime entanglement, along with a few other things I’ll share soon, have inspired this month’s new meditation on Clarity (HERE).

Speaking of Clarity…

Unlike many people we all know, Vlad is almost always extraordinarily clear about what we wants.

I bear witness to this every morning in the baseball field.

Always maintaining solid eye contact, he gently drops the ball in front of the person he’s selected to kick or throw it next.

Since we’re in the field for about an hour every morning, he works with at least a dozen or more widely spread out candidates.

In a method known only to him, he selects someone, offers them a few rounds, and then moves on.

What I hear over and over again, particularly from first-timers, is a delighted version of “Wow…I’ve been chosen!”

I often respond with, “It’s a huge honor, second only to the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.”

I marvel each morning that not only does Vlad demonstrate such good hosting skills, but also that he’s so clear in his communication.

There’s no confusion about his message.

Indeed, he embodies the Angel Card’s admonition to “Focus on intent and straightforward expression.”

Thus, because of this––and his preternatural cuteness––he pretty much always gets exactly what he wants.

There are lessons in there for all of us.

It’s not hard to see why my wind chimes get so tangled.

To do their job and create airborne music they have to bump into each other.

In fact, I’m reminded of that old French proverb:

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.”

Even so, akin to socks getting lost in the dryer, there’s something downright mysterious about how cords always seem to get tangled up, often with minimal external factors.

I was delighted to think that scientists agree.

In fact, in this study HERE, in an experiment repeated 3,000 times, researchers placed a string in a box and shock it for ten seconds.

Varying string lengths and sizes, along with an assortment of boxes and different tumbling factors, they found that 50 percent of the time, even after this short spin, the string would have a knot in it.

All of this contributed to the branch of mathematics known as Knot Theory.

(While perhaps inspired by problems with our shoelaces, Knot Theory is actually more interested in mathematical knots with joined ends that cannot be undone.)

Nonetheless, these scientists found that in real life “a string will naturally tend toward greater knottiness.” 

And, unless we’re striving for clarity, so will so many other aspects of our own lives as well.

Going all the way back to prehistory, archeologists have discovered that people have been tying knots for both practical and mystical reasons.

There are even recently discovered 100,000-year-old bone needles used for sewing.

Knots transcend cultures.

Historians cite examples in Chinese artwork from 400 B.C., Tibetan Buddhism’s Endless Knot, and the intricate artwork in the 9th century Irish Book of Kells.

Even so, when we encounter knots in our headphones or when unboxing our Christmas Tree lights,they are mostly just sources of frustration.

Fortunately, practical applications of the study I mentioned above have helped designers create thicker iPhone cords which are less likely to tangle.

And sometimes––such as my quantum leap of now using ear buds when jumping rope––technology allows us to transcend the problem completely.

Far more difficult to unravel, however, are those confused perceptions, those layers of projections, judgments, and assumptions we hold that often unknowingly distort our take on reality.

Untangling our inner landscape is a far more unwieldy task.

Fittingly, this coming week I’m involved with some projects that are also about Clarity.

One is prepping for a high-end branding meeting, one that’s not about color schemes, fonts, or logos, but rather a deeper exploration of purpose and mission.

I haven’t done the exercises yet but I know that part of what’s required is drilling down to single word definitions of what you’re offering the world.

I’ve also promised to be a beta tester for a dear friend’s new online course.

A gifted therapist, it’s all about uncovering patterns and gaining––you guessed it––clarity.

Beyond this, I’m reading a book that’s highly recommended by friends, one I’m sure I’ll be sharing insights from in the next few weeks: Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

I may even do a very informal free “Book Club” Zoom around it, partially to see if that’s something that would interest reader of this newsletter.

Frankly, Essentialism seems like a perfect springtime read for anyone interested in greater clarity.

If you like, pick up a copy…I’ll keep you posted.

In the end, while it’s taking me decades to undo certain emotional storms, it took me only 13 minutes to untangle the wind chimes.

(I was genuinely surprised it wasn’t the better part of an hour).

Anyway, I started with the smaller ones which were much less snarled.

The longer ones were definitely intertwined in more complicated ways.

I’m happy to report that even mid-detangling, I could see how my frustration was rapidly declining just as my satisfaction increased with every chime I freed.

They’re hanging outside again, ready to serenade me and my friends just as the weather warms.

Indeed, Springtime really does seem to be a perfect moment to focus on gaining more clarity.

(Remember: when they’re shaken even just a bit,science proves that strings (and assorted life issues) are inclined to get more knotted.)

Ultimately, none of us may rise to the level of Vlad’s focused intent on the field.

(That level of Clarity is Truly Olympian.)

Even so I’m excited to share with you how my Adventures in Untangling evolve.

Namaste for Now,

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