Friday, October 30, 2009


The ends ran around one another and the loops intersected. There were knots that could only get tighter with every pull of a strand. The loose ends needed some tying up…

I found that bundle of mess in my vehicle’s storage space this morning. My Sony Walkman earphones had got badly entangled. And that’s the story most days no matter how neatly I store them the previous evening. It is as if they find their way into an entanglement. And then I have to spend a few minutes every morning sorting it all out before I leave for work.

But then I have learnt over two years of disentangling Sony earphones that pulling at the ends does not help. Neither does pulling at any strand somewhere in the middle. The easiest and quickest way is to pull at the whole mess simultaneously so that wires get spaced out and the loops get really big and the whole mess kinda sorts itself out on its own. The idea is to space it out and let everything move away from everything else.

In human relationships and most often in the ones closest to our hearts there is conflict. There are disagreements. There is friction. There is abrasion. And it is unpleasant. And then there is a fight. We bring up the same issues from 2 years ago and fight about them without going anywhere. We pull at each other’s points of view. We pick up a random strand, that comment from an evening no one remembers, and make it the foundation of our argument. And the knots just tighten.

The important thing to remember is to space out in times of conflict. Move away. Create gaps. Either verbal gaps through silence or physical gaps through absence. The loops will enlarge. And you will see the spaces in your own argument, the loopholes to be precise. And it will be much easier to disentangle the knots.

It is natural to find our way into conflict. I guess that is a part of being human and being unique in our own right. Interaction between any two people then becomes a matter of push and pull until equilibrium is attained. So we must remember that it is ok to get entangled.

Just like my earphones always do.

9 Thinkers Pondered:

Smita said...

That's such a well written piece!!!

I always entangle my mob charger, headphones wire & data cable and try to tug them all but as u said it is doing with patience which finally gets the job done!!! And as u said it holds true for life as well!!

Vijay said...


Beautiful piece! Fitting analogy, as far as it goes!

* * * * * *

Am glad you took the example of earphones and not that of any random piece of string, rope, or lace getting entangled. The obvious value associated with earphones, as against a random piece of rope, makes the analogy appropriate enough for the idea of a relationship, too.

In this other case of some random string getting entangled, simply cutting the knot might even look like a valid way of disentangling it, on occasion. (I'm sure you've heard of "cutting the Gordian knot".) Apply that to relationships, and it's immediately clear why that cannot be a solution. After all, when would you sever your earphones' cord as a way to disentangle it; may be when you explicitly want to see the end of it? Even then, it's more likely that you would rather just "dump it", am I right! :-/

* * * * * *

Managing to accommodate more space into things might make things easier to solve (by revealing the 'loop holes', as you beautifully put it), but still, that itself does not automatically disentangle or solve anything.

For that to happen, you have to look closely and carefully, and understand how the cord runs from one end to the other, observe the continuum, and resolve the mess by engaging closely with the entanglement (NOT by going away / keeping distance / staying away), all the while being true to the continuum that keeps the cord in one piece from end to end. (In a cord, this continuum is physical; in a relationship, it could be logical—the unmistakable underpinnings of what brought and keeps the parties together.)

Needless to say, doing this requires—apart from a genuine will to resolve things, to begin with—a considerable amount of patience and quite a bit of consistent and unrelenting effort. But oh! these words are anathema to the affairs of the heart, aren't they! :)

Relationships are expected to work "magically", not "logically"; from the "heart", not the "head"! When that happens to be the general understanding, it is indeed rarely that all the parties involved are willing to put in patient and open-minded effort to resolve issues. And, honesty to self and courtesy to the other(s) become the first casualties, because "imagining" (a function typically attributed to the "heart") is more convenient than reckoning with hard facts.

As a result, while "space" is meant to give people the time to see the loopholes in their own argument, many only use that as a waiting game—all the while posturing, acting pricey, playing hard to get, and so on, ultimately trying to manipulate the other party/parties into a weaker position, and the whole thing becomes, sooner or later, an elaborate game.

Thank god, the ends of earphones do not have minds of their own, lest they might also end up playing mind games, I fear! :-/

popsie said...

Beautiful Analogy!:-)

manvi said...

Simply Beautiful :)

Anupama said...

Hey Smita!

Thank you so much :)

Hey Vijay,

Thank you so much for putting so much thought into the post :) ....your comment could have been a post by itself...really gladdened by the fact that you considered this worth that much analysis :)

Hey Popsie and Manvi,

Thanks a whole lot both :)

Satish said...

If we just extend the idea of this post a little more,no matter how much the wires get entangled, the earphones donot lose their quality. All that is needed is few cool moments to untangle the wires.
Similalry in life, no matter how much we get entangled(problems)in life, our innerworth doesnot subside... a few moments of cool and the sweet music again flows in the life....

ani_aset said...

I like the example you have used :). well written. As for the problem buy headphones of ipod :D

Priya Iyer said...

lovely post.. so insightful.. i m amazed how you get such lessons out of the ordinary things of everyday life!!!

completely agree with you on the 'spacing out' part.. :)it gives you the time and peace to be away from the fight (though only in your mind) and come up with the right solution...

PS: I have the same problem too.. the entanglement of my headphone wires too.. i just give it to the better half, and i sit and admire his patience while he sorts it out neatly... :D

Anupama said...

Hey Satish,

I never thought about it that way! Thanks for extending the idea and for the comment :) ...let the music play

Hey Aniruddha,

Welcome to the space and thanks for the comment :) ...I think I'll buy a whole iPod and not just the is worth it I guess...

Hey Priya!

It s nice to know you have a problem solver with lots of patience at home :)...I am sure God forbid any conflict arises it will always get resolved with equal amounts of patience and ease...God bless...