“When you’re telling a story, the best stories, every character has an arc. And that arc is usually about finding yourself, or about at least finding something about yourself that you didn’t know.” – Roy Conli

Conli’s words help me understand. I now see the pattern, the arc, my life has traveled. I have a lifetime of creating knots, and then being given something or someone to help untangle them, offering me freedom.

These knotty tangles, or bird’s nests as I learned to call them, are not all the same. Neither are the ways to untie them, but the arc is always there. I create the mess and then help comes to my rescue.

Let’s start with a childhood knot and being rescued by my most trusted teacher.

The Family Evinrude. Still with me after all these years. We need to get back on the water to BOTH recapture our youth. There may be faster partnerships on the lake, but none will be having more fun! I’m happy we’ve stayed together.

I created some tangled knotty messes in the front end of a small flat-bottomed jon boat. Me up front and my dad in back. His hand firmly at the controls of our trusty one-cylinder, 1.5 hp Evinrude.

At age eight, my bait casting reel would always end up in a knotty mess. Dad called them “bird’s nests” because the tangled interlacing of fishing line looked like the complicated weave of its namesake.

I’d work on detangling it for under a minute, wind it back in and quickly make another cast, only to have my bait suddenly stop short of its target, falling in the lake too far away for the fish to even notice.

It was then best to hand the rod and reel back to my dad and let him fix my tangles. That way I could quickly get back to the fun of fishing.

Life moved on. I grew up, got married, had kids, worked hard and developed some new bird’s nests. There were many knotty times, but with each one, help always arrived.

Then I retired, and discovered an even stranger variety of birds’ nests. These tangles were in my mind. Some had been with me longer than I knew. These knotty things were blocking the flow of energy to both my body and my mind.

Storytelling was the help that showed up this time. This age-old practice turns out to be a great way to untangle newly discovered knots. I’m not catching any more fish these days, but everything seems to work better now that I include storytelling as one of my healthy habits. Stories flow freely from the reel of my mind, the pathways are open, and there’s room for new ideas to flow in.

What knots have you discovered? Who, or what showed up to help?

If your mind gets tangled into birds’ nests like mine, would storytelling let the line flow better? Will you tell me how that could work?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran


Notice this man’s patience. He could have moved on, cranked back in, only to have the reel fail to let out enough line. Can untangling knots in your body or freeing space in your mind be similar? I think so.