“Never cut what can be untied.” Joseph Joubert – a French writer born in 1754.
Ropes can make knots and knots are useful – think fishing, rappelling, rope ladders and bows. Learning to tie shoelaces is one of our early achievements. When we marry, we “tie the knot”.
On the flip side, when we are anxious, we can feel all “tied up in knots”. The hangman’s noose is a knot. The Gordian Knot symbolizes an intractable problem. And most parents have struggled to get knots out of long hair.
In my work, the relationship is the rope. People in conflict face a consistent challenge: Do I “cut and run”, or do I do the work of untangling what can feel like an impossible knot?
Remember: a good knot can strengthen connection, build trust and support a lot of heavy stuff. When knots get stuck, trust and connection are challenged and it is sorely tempting to take a knife and cut away the heavy stuff.
But, if what brought you together was important enough that you tied a knot in the first place, then your challenge is to do the work of untying, so that your rope can be put to a new and better use.
Over the next little while, I will be thinking about knots, and the complex arrangements of rope that create them. I’m a bit uncomfortable creating this Blog, so I will remind myself that the “knotty” feeling in my stomach has a flip side we sometimes call “butterflies”!