The definition of compatible is "able to exist or occur together without conflict."
When I read this definition I had to laugh. In my little family of three humans, two dogs, three horses, 18 chickens and 1 rooster....there is rarely a day when we all feel "compatible" or without conflict.
For example, yesterday I began letting the chickens out in the garden to free range again, now that our garden season is mostly over. I brought over some water and the rooster cornered me in their pen.
I was woefully unprepared to defend myself as he prepared to come at me (usually I bring in a garden tool to keep him at a distance- hence the photo represented).
In this moment our priorities were clearly in conflict and we were not compatible. I wanted to give everyone some more space and freedom (and water) and he felt that the flock was threatened (by me). Neither of us was wrong....but there was conflict. Even though we both value what's best for the flock- we had different ways of showing it and different ideas of what that looks like.
(now- I recognize that I'm projecting a values system onto a rooster that may or may not be true, but for the sake of the metaphor...stay with me.)
I can think of several examples just in this last week where I watched our animals navigate conflict and compatibility. Their communication and boundaries were clear. Sometimes it was loud and uncomfortable and didn't seem fair....but they worked it out one way or another, sometimes by keeping their distance.
I think the difference between conflict in animals and in humans is what we make it mean. We might make it mean that something is wrong with us or them, when in fact there may be nothing "wrong" with anyone....maybe we just aren't compatible and some clear communication, boundaries and/or some distance might be necessary.
Can that be ok?
Can it be ok that we might share some of the same values but different priorities?
Or can it be ok that we have conflict because we don't share the same values?
I believe our deepest work and investment is in aligning our own values with priorities and actions so that we are compatible with ourselves.
When we distance ourselves from what matters most ...we are in constant conflict internally and its hard to gain clarity about how to navigate the external world and conflicts around us.
So- back to the rooster. I don't fault him for being a rooster.....for puffing up and acting like he knew what was best.
I gave him a gentle nudge with my boot and worked my way out the door and enjoyed the view of those hens living their best lives, regardless of my fear of getting hurt.
He's not my favorite animal on this farm- but he sure teaches me a lot and for that I'm grateful.
He makes me more thoughtful about my actions, more deliberate about my choices, and more mindful of my practices.
And....he's not the only one.
Every conflict is an invitation to listen, just a little closer, to the wisdom within.