Bigger Picture Read Count : 24
Category : Blogs
Sub Category : LifeStyle
I know a lot about problems. Ever faithful, they follow every step of my journey demanding attention. I may not think of learning to talk and walk as problems, but they are my first foray into the world of growth. Although I may view them as automatic rites of passage that occur without specific guidance or instruction, but as I watched the face of my toddler niece seeking balance to take her first steps, it was clear to me that she was actively participating in a process I will encounter for the rest of my life; a process known as problem-solving.
The first time I heard the word 'problem' in association with something I had to accomplish, occurred at school. The teacher, writing a mixture of confusing letters, numbers, and signs on the blackboard, would announce our task - to solve the mathematical problems. I remember it being difficult. I remember, despite having some information; I didn't feel prepared and that was a problem for me. I also remember learning how to write 'joined-up' writing. I remember it being difficult. I remember being told my 'joined-up' writing should be much better with practice. That process of perfecting my 'joined-up' writing became a problem for me. They were feelings I encountered again reaching adulthood. In the workplace, problem-solving is rampant. In the maze of projects, deadlines, and tasks, is the unspoken side business, which is the ability to get everything accomplished by overcoming obstacles. It's there too in my relationships, whether they be work or personal. I am just supposed to know what to do or to figure it out, so my problems get solved. The 'problem' is, they often don't. And because I hold onto a belief to find solutions to all my problems, the problem-solving path I often choose may not be serving me as well as I believe.
In my stubbornness.... in my ignorance.... in my despair, I hold fast. I make some problems, 'mountains out of mole hills', and when I do face dilemmas and challenges which are large and looming, it is there I find myself on that mountain path, clawing my way up, step by step. I stumble, I fall.... accepting the cuts and bruises I accumulate as part of the price I need to pay to succeed. In the distance, covered in mist, I see the goal; the mountain-top where my reward is waiting. Sometimes, I can't see the way forward so I stop to pitch my tent. Sometimes, I never leave that tent, finding a power in being a victim so much easier than continuing the journey. But when I do reach the top, the view is beautiful. High in the clouds I see rivers carving paths in the valleys below and carpets of beautiful trees covering the mountain sides. Yet, I don't linger long.... I cant, because what I also see are other peaks in the distance.... more uphill paths to take.... more problems to solve.
I begin the descent.... the memory of my accomplishment fading fast. Fatigued by the climb and distracted by thoughts swelling within about the next hill to scale.... the next problem to solve, I don't see the footholds as clearly, I don't see the amazing flowers littering the path, I don't see refreshing waters below, I don't hear the birdsongs. Instead.... something goes wrong and another problem is born.
Problem-solving feels so right to me. I need it to grow, and although it often feels like climbing up a mountain, I am not happy with my vision of it; not because problems aren't hard work, not because I stumble, not because I don't want to reach the top, but because what goes wrong doesn't occur most where I imagine - on the way up. Most accidents happen on the way down and if I'm tackling the Mount Everest of problems, 80% of accidents occur on the descent.
When I feel overwhelmed I need a different view, a new perspective on problems and problem-solving. Embracing mine, I no longer see a vision of mountains to climb, but a lighthouse flickering in the distance. A reminder, that not all my problems need to be solved, and some are best left unsolved to continue to teach, when I stop climbing and listen. I can count numbers, but I'm not a whizz in math. My 'joined-up' writing is a lot better now, but at times they aren't very easy to read. When I look hard, there are so many problems I don't need to solve. Looking even harder, many are not even 'problems' at all.
So today, I am taking another approach - I seek my lighthouse and be blessed by its light; the one which never leaves me. The light that's a beacon to guide me, the light which slowly circling, flashes to remind me that there will always be some problems to solve, but not all the time; the light on top of the mountain I don't need to climb; the light that calls out my name when times are tough, when I feel pushed into problem-solving mode.
The light which reminds me that I am a learner, a doer, and a teacher.