“A king fortifies himself with a castle, a gentleman with a desk.” The Count in A Gentleman in Moscow
Cashmere or chiffon. Shag or Persian. Antiques or Ikea. It’s not a one size fits all world. In the material world, what bolsters and sustains you? What makes you feel like the world is your oyster – confident, enthused and poised to take advantage of what comes your way? And what makes you feel like you’ve got a tiger by the tail- exhausted and out of control?
Our tolerance for hanging on to tiger tails varies enormously. How are you wired? Edgy or relaxed? One man’s crisis is another’s bagatelle (a word my beloved mother-in-law loved- and for her, bagatelles greatly outnumbered crises).
Those who seem not only sanguine about their tiger tails, but positively energized by them amaze me. They see opportunities rather than problems. Hassle seldom parts their lips. And for others, if hassle is not on their lips, it’s at least on their minds. And knowing where you fall on the hassle spectrum is important for knowing how to fortify yourself.
A castle or a desk or something else entirely? What is too much? What is too little? And what is just enough- just right as Goldilocks would say?
Would a castle isolate you with its drawbridge and moat or would it provide a place for generosity and hospitality? Would you delight in throwing open the gates or would you be constantly annoyed by the squeaks and leaks and be so busy fiddling with things that you never really enjoyed your treasure?
And what about the desk? Would it be a place where you kept relationships nurtured, ledgers balanced and responsibilities met? Would it be your comfortable place for tending to life? Or would it be a place that shackles- a tiresome place that depletes rather than sustains?
What things are you glad you own? And which ones do you rue? It’s both the easiest and hardest of questions. Easiest because there are no wrong answers. And hardest because the questioning can lay bare the reality that you’ve been covering over. The things you rue are probably the ones best thought of as owning you.
When it comes to the questions, Rules can be guidelines for finding your way. The way won’t necessarily be a straight road with precise signage. It will likely be an uneven, serpentine path, with plenty of chances for detours, deadends, and course corrections. But things almost always work out better when we think before we do. So, a castle, a desk or something else entirely. Think. Then do.
Happy trails, sans tiger's tail!