Vail Open Bar: Adapt to live, live to adapt (column)
September 17, 2017
Existence is inherently in flux. To make sense of the collections of atoms that comprise our universe, we categorize and contain, we pretend that we can impose order upon chaos. In the course of so doing, we create firmament where there should be fluidity.
This is not only in the physical sense, but in the metaphysical, as well. We create patterns, habits, biases that allow us to cope with the often-difficult business of living. Problems arise when these become so entrenched, so uncompromising as to create friction with the constantly shifting world around us. We must be reminded that humans are capable of incredible feats of reinvention; people have adapted to survive since the arrival of our species.
Conflicts, legal and otherwise, result from the collision of two (or more) opposing worldviews. Or at least differing views of the rectitude of the situation at hand. These perspectives are typically borne of deep-seated beliefs informed by moral codes and experience, spiced up by heat-of-the-moment emotions.
When these bedrock principles and contemporaneous feelings come into contact with those emanating from another person, disputes can happen. It is common to believe that being rigidly adherent to our core values requires us to stick to our vantage point no matter the cost; that to deviate from our individually tailored ideology is to abdicate it altogether.
I find that notion to be both absurd and impractical. Fanatical, unyielding devotion to anything (other than skiing and biking, perhaps) is dangerous at best and apocalyptic at worst. The long-view of evolution teaches us that we must be open to variation, that we must process new information and utilize it to adapt to circumstances as they arise. Instead of being curmudgeonly steel cubes characterized by sharp edges and inflexibility, we should be jolly rubber balls able to absorb impacts and rapidly change directions. While we may not be able to be stacked quite as efficiently, we will avoid creating craters of destruction when we collide. It is a worthy trade-off.
Taking this idea from the theoretical to the real world is trying, but entirely attainable. The first step is to make room in your brain for a diametric challenge to its own perception. Your mind can be trained to more readily accept differing viewpoints just like your body can be conditioned to be more limber. This mental adaptation sets the tone for the interactions to come, not all of which will be pleasant.
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In those darker times, using this new outlook will make it easier to create the conditions necessary to prevent petty disputes from metastasizing into giant conflagrations. As in yoga, it is possible to soften oneself, to become just pliant enough to be an effective negotiator, compromiser and ally. Conflict resolution does not require one party to completely give in: The best results come when each side engages to the best of their abilities, trades certain benefits for commensurate costs.
When we finally become comfortable with the status quo, when we have settled into our routine, that is when the world moves beneath our unsuspecting feet. If we are on alert for these shifts, both seismic and minute, then the process of adaptation becomes exponentially easier. Being caught unaware creates a condition of confusion that makes it more likely that we will try to strike from a place of weakness rather than cooperate from a position of strength. That is no way to show our best selves, to fulfill the promise of the carbon-based supercomputers that we all inhabit.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner-mediator at Voice of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.