Saturday, February 19, 2011

[Kuhn-flikt]ing [Kon-flikt]s

Conflict has several meanings. One is when two things disagree, like two people having an argument about something. Another is for them not only to disagree, but to struggle or clash with one another. Often, we use it as an adjective--"to be conflicted about" something.
    Conflict, like anger, grief, or love, is not an easy feeling to experience. Anger, grief and love are directed toward others, but conflict is something that happens within ourselves. Conflict, similarly, is related to ambivalence. As you have a choice of which side of the conflict you want to give in to, you also have a choice between two things you are uncertain about when you are ambivalent. Ambivalence does not mean indifference--but rather, both actions are holding their own and you are uncertain about which is the better course to take. Conflict can lead to the uncertainty of ambivalence, or vice versa.
    Unfortunately, things don't resolve themselves. Sooner or later, we have to pick a side, choose a lane, to move on with our lives. It's never an easy decision, but it always comes to that. Sometimes the conflict fades, and we are left with only the stronger of the options. But more often, or perhaps it only seems that way because it is these instances that stand out more in memory, the conflict builds until it reaches a crescendo or climax, at which point it is impossible to maintain the status quo. When that climax appears, you have to take a step in one direction or the other, or else the whole mess blows up in your face.
    We can be conflicted about tons of things. Should we get a bigger apartment/house? Do I need a new job? Should we have another kid? Should I try tap dance lessons or sculpture classes? What kind of car should I get? Caesar or house salad? Steak or chicken? Some conflicts are smaller, but some are life-altering.

The point, dear readers, is this: 
You can't go through life always wondering which side of the field is greener. 
You have to, at some point, pick a side.
Going back and forth is exhausting, and you can't be in two places at once.

No one wants to live in conflict, and yet, we still don't want to choose one side for fear that it's the wrong one. We like to leave our options open. We like being able  to pick from fifteen brands of jeans and twenty kinds of spaghetti sauce. Options are nice to have. But when they come into conflict, leaving you only two courses of action, options can be more of a burden than a blessing.
The grass may be greener on this side of the field, but that side has the beer.

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