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The Great Untangling . . .

For most of my life, Euclid was my hero.

Euclid theorized that the shortest distance between any two points was a straight line. This appealed to my sense of order. All I needed to do, to get where I wanted to be, was to connect the dots. I just needed to know where I was and where I was going. This approach to wayfinding was straightforward and efficient.

With eyes steeled on where I wanted to be, my resolve unwavering, I would set off each time fully expecting the straight-line approach to deposit me exactly where I wanted to be; the path to my destination would unfold before me. But it didn’t work. Not even close.

It felt like this. But I’m sure it looked a lot worse.

What I failed to realize was I was doomed from the start. I was martyring myself to a result, to a destination. Over and over again, I was determined to get to where I knew I needed to be. There had to be a way.

But there never was. Though I tried and tried and tried again, I never arrived at my destination. Not even close.

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.

—Allen Saunders

This statement was a testament to my life. There I was, using a straight-line approach to a life which was anything but logical and predictable. Life kept happening as I was making my way somewhere else.

Perhaps my challenge was more along the lines of the Stoics:

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.


That hit so close to home it left a mark. All I could do was to go back to where I started:

The more I looked at the path my life had taken, with its fits and starts, the more it reminded me of a tangled ball of yarn, which sadly, as a beginner knitter, I face with some regularity. The chaotic nature of the tangled yarn ball was exactly how I felt. When knitting, faced with a such a mess, the only choice you have is to either sever the end and emancipate the chaos, or you painstakingly, with nothing but time and patience, untangled the whole.

If you have experienced a tangled yarn ball, then you likely created it in the first place. Yarn balls do not instantaneously combust into a tangled mess, but once in that state, there is no way to make a tangled yarn ball yield or willingly submit to the process of untangling. It’s not about the yarn ball anymore, it’s all about you. If you get annoyed and randomly poke at it, all that happens is the fiber frays, creating even more chaos. If you get impatient and use force to pull at it, the tangles become even more set in their ways. You can get irritated and leave it behind or even, though I am not speaking from experience, throw it across the room in total frustration and try to ignore it. Good luck with that approach. You can even loudly declare that you are no longer interested in that project and move on to a new one with a pristine and orderly yarn ball, but the unfinished project attached to the tangled yarn ball will be a constant reminder of your failure. Untangling a yarn ball is a deliberate and intentioned act, which is not for the faint of heart.

There it was. My life is a tangled yarn ball.

All along, my life has been unraveling. A great big undoing. Getting annoyed, frustrated, or impatient at the chaotic state I found myself in, with the tangled mess I felt was my life, only stalled the process. With each unpredictable step forward, with each fork in the road, I was untangling my preconceived notions and the lure of the familiar. I was separating myself from the chaos around me, from what my own intellect thought I should be. I was making forward progress solely by reconnecting and rediscovering my relationship with myself. Organically and painstakingly, with nothing more than time and patience.

Life is a path of resolution.

You are complete right now, you are a whole person, a total person, not an apprentice person on the way to someplace else.

—Beverly Sills


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