Mar 21, 2011

Something has got to give.

It is a well known conceit that those who are tops in their public lives are often very much the bottom behind closed doors. And below the wink-wink-nudge-nudge humor embedded in picturing the chairman of the board ball-gagged lies the question of why this dynamic exists. Why do those who stand the tallest in the sun need to bend over when the lights go out?

Put very simply: something has got to give.
In a world in which so many opportunites are given to exercise our power and dominance, or to give in with the tides, there is a delicate balance that we all face when trying to take advantage of all the joys life has to offer, and also find inner piece.
And so it is no surprise that the woman who gives in to every whim with her partner might be looking for a little more control with her colleagues. It is not shocking that after a day of fighting for her voice to be heard in the boardroom, she might not want to decide where everyone goes to dinner, or the color of the drapes.

Most of these trade offs, these balances, can be done with a certain level of finesse, picking and choosing the best times to express strength by conceding, to clarify need by controlling.

But sometimes the scales get knocked. Sometimes we don't get to make a choice we really want to make. Sometimes we give in when we should have stood our ground. And I often think, when I see someone pushing and pushing for respect, yelling for attention, and insisting that they can not put up with another slight or injustice, that they have, somewhere else, conceded control that was very important to them. Likewise, as I watch someone give it up, I sometimes wonder: will someone, somewhere else, pay?

Life is a series of compromises. And it is far too simplistic to assume that your compromises in one arena won't effect the delicate balance of decisions you make in another. So sometimes it is imporant to question the times when your back is up and whether this is really the fight you want to fight. Conversely, when you decided to concede: is this something I actually need, is this an essential decision that I want to have control over? And how will it come to matter in other parts of my life that may be far more consequential, if I give this up?

Because something, somewhere, will give, and it's best to also consider how elastic the rest of your life is as you stretch and pull at the fabric of your world.

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