I would assume that most within my personal circle would consider me to be a fairly even-keeled & kind individual. However, there are times when I secretly daydream about annoying people simply for my own entertainment value. One such recurring daydream features an ice cream truck with me at the wheel. Stickers of frozen-fun adorn the sides of the vehicle and I keep to a safe speed, winding my way along the residential roadways of your local neighborhood. There are no specific customer interactions within the on-going storyboard of my daydream, as my motivation is to annoy as large a population as possible. This can be accomplished most efficiently through the use of the onboard speaker system, leveraging a tune which we most readily acquaint with a box & crank from our childhood. With bass and treble at record highs I would circle the neighborhood churning out the melody to “round and round the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel, the monkey thought ’twas all in fun and …” and then the music would simply stop playing…and then the song would start again. It would repeat incessantly and incompletely. That’s the evil ingenuity behind my daydream, the absence of “pop goes the weasel”. My corporate sponsors would be every single psychotherapist in the city as I sent clients flying their direction, mind now held captive to the melody of an unresolved ice cream truck tune. There are few things as sinister.
We crave resolution. It seems knit into the fabric of our humanity, discontent with the comma and transfixed on the period. We need the melody, storyline and artpiece to find their completion. We would literally be psychologically damaged by a reality of the incomplete. How disturbed did you become simply as a result of the unfinished nature of this article’s title, even though you probably knew the word which was meant to exist there?
While we find a healthy rhythm in resolution, there are certain times when moments of suspended tension are helpful. Because we feel compelled to fill in the blank of “Pop Goes the Weasel” with our own whistled breath, we default to rescuing others from these important moments. We hijack boredom from our children during their summer hours, rather than trusting them to complete the tune with creative engagement and exploration. We fix the uncomfortable, rather than allowing their discomfort to prod them toward something meaningful. We also find these moments so unsettling we convince ourselves that doing 4th grade mathematics ourselves is of greater value than suggesting our frustrated student take a second look at their homework after a “brain break”. The boardrooms and cubicles of the world are not immune to our need to eradicate discomfort. We “resolve” conflict between direct reports rather than provide them some tools and permission to work towards healthier partnership together. We dictate rather than facilitate discovery. We jump to quickly define rather than leave some measure of margin where implication can become more powerful than specific application. We eliminate struggle and with it all growth that comes with lifting something out of our own way and finding a better place to set it down.
I wonder what might occur if next time we sense discomfort, instead of rushing frantically to resolve it we simply let it abide a bit longer. We might learn a great deal about our child’s capacity to innovate, our team-members potential for persistence or our own ability to see the gift present in adversity. In the meantime, if you hear a familiar tune blasting across your community on a lazy summer day, suspiciously missing the final 5 notes, it is probably me finally sitting behind the wheel of that big, white annoy-mobile. Come on out and say “hello”, the popsicle is on the house.