Friday, October 02, 2015

Separating Charcoal

One 'Occupational Hazard' I have is that I am very happy opening up pretty much any issue to discuss. This is hazardous because there is something energising about taking things as they are. Megan talked about 'the art of non-choosing'. Culture is powerful in that in presents pre-packed decisions honed over the last few thousand years based on the way the world was. There is deep wisdom in conservative cultures that just don't want to mess with it. This is the blanket 'It's not natural' response to anything that challenges a natural cultural way of doing things. We don't really have the insight to know the knock on effects of doing any one thing differently. It is safer to do things the way they have been done. Keep calm and carry on.

Not over-thinking other options allows you to fly under the radar. It also means conversations can be polite. They can avoid things like religion, politics and sex and people can just get along nicely. The rules are clear. There can be some banter about sport. We can talk about TV series we both enjoy. We can play some football or tennis. We can update each other on the events in mutual friends or families lives. New jobs, relationships, homes or renovations. We can just enjoy each others company, and get on with things. Kuier.

Opening up issues can suck up energy, and create the chance for you to find a point of contention that spoils everything else.  Half a teaspoon of charcoal in a bottle of your favourite wine, no longer your favourite wine.

One little thing can mess up a lot of great stuff

Difficult issues aren't solved over the course of one conversation. We tend to tweak our views slowly. I think touching on them is a little like receiving challenging feedback. You have to earn the right to give someone feedback. They have to know they are on your side, and the feedback is well intentioned. There has to be a buffer of positive things that have been built up over time. There has to be evidence of a genuine attempt to see things in context. No buffer and the relationship will snap when it is put under strain.

I think the same thing is true of intense conversations. You can't always have them. Different people have different levels of energy for stuff that shakes up the world. You can overdo intensity. You have to play enough Ping Pong. Meaning you have to spend enough time just enjoying each other's company. Building periods of relaxation into relationships where being around those that matter to us is comfortable. Relaxation may seem like you are doing nothing, but it is quite the opposite. 

Relaxation separates the charcoal from the wine. 
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