Monday, April 8, 2013

Hermit Hole

My daughter and I like to play an online billiards game from time to time. Her favorite option to select is eight ball. She always goes first and executes the break. Her rule is that she get to repeat this step until at least one solid ball is pocketed. She always chooses solids. If any striped ball goes in on the break, it doesn't count, and she clicks the reset button. Her approach is always to play a power game. She pulls the cue back and hits every shot with full force. I tend to play a much more subtle and cerebral style, marked by finesse and touch.

It is not a rare occurrence when, in mid game, she will change the rules of the contest. For instance, the other day she declared the lower corner pocket hers and hers alone. It was off limits to me. She kept calling it her "hermit hole". I don't know where in her imagination this notion came from. The more balls that she put into that pocket, the more she giggled. She told me that I could not put any of my stripes in her hermit hole as that was where she liked to hide and keep people out. I could only nod knowingly.

Throughout my life I have always had my own personal hermit hole. Whether it was my bedroom when I was a kid, my office at the university when I was a student, or even now, my car at lunch time, I have always felt the need to have a place where I could escape from everyone and be by myself. In some seasons of my life my hermit hole has been a healthy place from which I could emerge stronger, more focussed, and more at peace. I could weigh important decisions or think on a topic without interruption. In other seasons, I ran to it like a coward to escape personal conflicts. Ultimately, I learned that this approach was to my great detriment. Sometimes resolving conflicts is necessary for relationships to increase in trust and depth. Those who flee to safety at the first sign of rising tensions may soon find that those relationships either become entirely shallow or disappear altogether.