Points of Friction

Amidst a “What’s it all about, Alfie?” moment over the past few weeks, I’ve started to pay close attention to where there’s noticeable friction in my world. Friction meaning a certain situation, attitude, or outlook that results in physical or emotional discomfort. Instead of shying away, I’ve begun to ask: what is this? Why don’t I like this? Why is this grinding rather than gliding? You’d think the answer is simple, but unfortunately, it isn’t always straightforward.

The older I get, the more I grapple with the notion that humans are more-often illogical than logical. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that what you’re doing is right for you in the moment, only to take off your glasses later and realize “this is not good.” Not to shame this behavior outright, I’ve taken a different slant as of late: instead of guilting oneself for a less-than-favorable decision in the past, ask instead “what is this trying to teach me?”

When you look at something as an opportunity for learning, you start to understand where you’re fooling yourself. You can see, quite plainly, which directions of those you’re heading in that are not right for you and which are. Where there’s noticeable friction, it’s likely that you’re participating in something that doesn’t sync up with your true nature. To juxtapose a little R. Kelly into this: “my mind is telling me no, but my body is telling me yes!” Deep down you know better, but you lie to yourself because you think it’s what you should be doing or perhaps what’s expected of you.

To live life like this is painful. We obscure that pain with justifications like “everybody else is doing it,” or, “my parents would disown me if I didn’t do this,” or, the more flippant toddler approach “but I want it!” No matter how we go about condoning our behavior, we know simply by feeling it: this isn’t us. It shouldn’t go without a spotlight, either, that we may have done and been in sync with this behavior in the past, but our current self doesn’t align with it.

The trick—at least for myself—has been to level with who you are right now. My younger self would kick my ass, but hell if the me of right now doesn’t like to coordinate his sofa and rug choices. If I were to do what I did in the past now and buy a nondescript couch from a resale shop for $40, my head might explode. It’s funny to admit, but you just cannot live a peaceful life if your environment, relationships, and choices don’t enhance who you are right now rather than battle with it. If what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with, or why you’re doing it feels like it’s pulling you down: it’s likely you have a bit of learning to do.