Solve For x

The problem is not the problem, you’re attitude is the problem. Said a legendary Pirate. Pop culture may have romanticized this pirate, but the quote would’ve sounded just as sweet had it come from an old crooner. Except the fact that crooners may not be willing to be problem solvers.

Capt. Jack Sparrow

Problem solving is a skill, the fruits of the trade lie in the process. The exhilarating experience of hitting dead ends, feeling the world press against you, and the never ending pall of gloom all add up and make the victory seem sweet. Sometimes it’s just an end that you’re craving for and not even victory.

Once it ends, you look for the next problem, next battle, next pall of gloom to fight through.

It was my father’s long standing dream of seeing the world, or to be more specific, seeing USA. Ever since I was a child – perhaps 6-7 years old, I had seen my father try for the foreign posting jobs at his work. Every time he would be disappointed, he would count and recount the sequence of incidents and stay disappointed for days on end.

As he got older and moved onto literature, he became active in the Kannada literature circles. He published 3 books in a single calendar year. He hoped against hope that the who’s who of Kannadigas in USA would notice his work and invite him over for a session or a reading or any other cultural or literary event in USA. The invite never came.

Finally, I put my foot down and said enough of trying and failing dad. You keep clinging onto hopes that others might give you an opportunity, but you’re just losing time. I think you should go on your own. You have the money, you have the health and you have the time. What else could you need?

Finally he went for it. Got the visa, got the tickets, got on the invite list of a few events, made a list of all the tourist spots, relatives to visit and shopping to do, and he went. Mission accomplished. It took nearly 35-40 years – or it could be more – but he had done it. What next? He started writing a book about all this – Ok maybe not about the 35-40 years, but more like a travelogue – but he had moved onto the next challenge – next x.

The story of the crystal merchant in the book The Alchemist is known to all. Here’s what you need to know about him if you don’t know already. If you don’t know and didn’t bother clicking the link, he wouldn’t do something, lets call it x because he believed there wouldn’t be anything to live for once he did his x. Did my father push his foreign trip or look for disappointing avenues to the trip because on the inside he didn’t want to go?

All of us love staying in the problem because we don’t know what we would do next, or rather what problem we would take up next to solve. Makes me ask, are we all always looking for problems? Maybe that’s why someone long ago though ignorance was bliss?

The truth is established that we all love to move on from problem to problem, because life is after all a game of improvisation, but what are we trying to improvise on? or rather improvise towards? An eternal state of bliss? Does moving from one problem to another count or does it mean we constantly want to remain in the problematic state? It sounds so cruel, but to sum this argument, you are either a problem averse person or you’re a person who loves to dwell in them.. how do we find a balance?

That’s the question. Its easy to say Moderation is the answer, but how to we moderate? The hell if I know.

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