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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Zig Zagging through life: Diverting our energy from where it is really needed.

On my wedding day, my best man and I were driving around I think headed back to my apartment, but that's not important.  Anyway, traffic in front of us stopped with little or no notice.  To avoid rear-ending the car ahead of me I zig-zagged a bit.

I didn't think of it immediately, but it occurred to me shortly thereafter that in way that's exactly what we do when we try to avoid "running into" the painful truth--even when we need to face the reality of our situation and/or work through our decisions/issues/problems.   Just like with the momentum or energy of my car, life's momentum often pushes or carries us directly into path of our problems.  As I didn't want my best man or I to face the impact of rear-ending the car in front of us, so do we not want to face the impact of problems.  So, we come up with diversions or ways of avoiding having to deal.  Sometimes, these diversions are destructive like Alcoholism and out of control gambling.  Other times, they are just unproductive like keeping glued to the TV.  But, the common thread is that we use the diversions to deal.  In others we are 'zig-zagging' or moving sideways to absorb the energy we would otherwise be focusing on our problems.

For example, in my first marriage, when we had disagreements or when something was bothering me and I felt like I couldn't discuss it with her, I would shut down, push it aside and find another outlet to avoid having to deal (and possibly avoid a fight).  Sometimes, it was a 'productive' outlet like cleaning the house, other times it wasn't necessarily a productive or healthy outlet.  The main point is that I was 'zig-zagging' or finding a diversion from the problem that lie head on.   Now, this wasn't a new way of dealing for me.  It really was an extension of my childhood and early adulthood in which I felt like I couldn't speak freely with my dad or effectively stand up for what was important to me.  But, I digress.  The point was that I didn't want to face the impact of dealing head-on with problems.
That all changed with the passing of my brother Bill.  I have a blog in progress that I'm not finished with about him called Don't you forget about me: The blog I needed to write one day.  Anyway, I realized with his passing the ultimate cost of avoiding dealing with issues.

What I've written above at some points might suggest that it is a bad thing to 'zig zag' or divert.  However, as I've learned over the years, life isn't necessarily always clear cut.  As Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 indicates, there is a time for everything.  This included dealing head on with issues vs. pushing aside the issues for a time.  Here are a couple circumstances which zig-zagging might not be a bad idea. 
  • Sometimes, the issue/problem is too large to face directly.  For example, when mourning the death of a close relative, we can't get our grief out in one day.  We can sometimes only face what we need to in small stages: dealing, then turning away, then dealing, then turning away...
  • Sometimes, the timing isn't right.  For example, if we are hosting out-of-town family for the holidays we don't want to air our dirty laundry and cause humiliation in front of our guests.
Anyway, just my thoughts for the night.  Hopefully, you get something useful from my musings.  God bless and good night.

-- Rich

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