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The Keystone

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A Keystone is the central wedge-shaped stone of an arch that locks its parts together and serves as a guide and control upon which the neighboring parts depend. Ancient Africans said whenever one encounters a complex problem or multiple problems that generate a "Limbo" situation the first thing to do is to put it in order. Then, I add, look for the keystone--the problem's orchestrating and controlling force or power or influence or obstacle. The Ordering and Keystone concepts for complex and difficult problems came early in my orthopaedic surgical practice.

A nine year old boy had fallen out of a tree and really messed up his right wrist, as evidenced by the big bulge on the top. This bulge, indicating a total dislocation of his wrist, looked as if there were eight marbles just under his skin. Besides his wrist being extremely deformed, it was extremely painful. Using a handshake type grasp of our right hands, I gradually and gently and continuously pulled on his hand in a straight line.

Then I heard a “clunk,” meaning the keystone bone (the scaphoid, also called navicula) had fallen back into its normal place. As a result of getting the leading bone back in place, all the surrounding bones easily fell into their normal spots and thereby the dislocated wrist was reduced. A cast was applied for six weeks. The point is that if you handle the "Keystone" problem first, the Satellite problems are likely to resolve by themselves.

But, you ask: "How do I determine the Keystone within my problems?" Every situation inside the Juggling Syndrome has three main categories. First is the person's Trigger Category (the "ballpark" where his/her primary self-defeating problem lies) as, for example, the boy's right upper limb. Second, the Trigger Problem is where one looks to locate the Keystone Problem (e.g. the top of the boy's right wrist). Third is the Trigger Obstacle--i.e. the single most important factor in that Trigger Problem serving to prevent his/her recovery progress (i.e. the scaphoid out of place). If the Trigger Obstacle cannot be located then begin with the Trigger Problem or, if that is not possible, with the Trigger Category.

Starting with the most pertinent, obvious, and easiest allows one to step inside the problem and "look around" for all Satellite Problems joined to the "Keystone" Problem. These Satellite Problems expand in all directions. Find the Satellite Problem that lends itself to being handled without a great deal of difficulty. Once that is done a somewhat more difficult Satellite Problem will appear ready to be solved--and so on until you get to the "Keystone" Problem. Though struggling Black Americans have many problems at the same time, we are dealing here only with things juggled rather than some unrelated (e.g. health) problem. Inside that Trigger Category some things being juggled are the result of a great deal of Emotional or Spiritual pain--and that pain is the Trigger Problem. Much of that pain's causes are something Jugglers make a great effort to deny or avoid. But the "why" of either is likely to be the "Keystone" Problem and the Trigger Obstacle--and that is the first thing to handle. Handling starts by looking immediately and thoroughly at it from all angles and especially locating the part you played in causing the pain. If you cannot "see," then you cannot know. Or the problem might be that because you are not a reader you have not learned how to do "new" things. Hence, you are likely to keep doing things the way they have always been done and thus you get the same bad results. The answer for breaking out of your Vicious Cycle is to force yourself to read pertinent information -- and Remember It! Needless "juggling" also comes from failing to take care of business where it is required--and inside that is a Keystone Problem, as in not helping a family member stay out of trouble.

Handle the Keystone immediately so as to prevent more trouble likely to require more juggling. Prevention of Keystones is to not accept needless hardships as well as to handle completely each Keystone Problem as soon as it appears. This requires thinking carefully about every significant thing you do.

website: www.jablifeskills.com

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