Thursday, December 15, 2011

Life is, in its own way, a Game Show

"We should feel excited about the problems we confront & our ability to deal with them," said Robert Anton Wilson. "Solving problems is one of the highest and most sensual of all our brain functions."

How do you work through problems? Have you ever wondered? Of course you think about them. Do you make lists of pros and cons or read books or seek the help of analytical thinkers? Sure you do! The rational function can sort many a personal quagmire.

In what other ways do you problem solve? If you take long walks as a way to move through the options for addressing whatever challenges you face, you're not the first person nor will you be the last. John Adams used to take ten or fifteen mile walks during which he contemplated the issues at hand in the early U.S. How astonishing to think of him out there walking, in 18th century shoes and white tights, without paved roads or sidewalks. He was tough!

Another common approach is to sleep on it. The people who study these things are now accepting how helpful it is to put an issue on the back burner for awhile, let the unconcious work on it. This is a link to a BBC article about the problem solving benefits of sleep - well - actually what they're referring to is dreaming as a problem solving method.

Answers to puzzles also come to people when they relax, such as in a hot shower or the bathtub. It's interesting to think about; hot water dissolves confusion ... sometimes!

When people get sick, they often try to figure out why. Illness is, to we curious, problem-solving homo sapiens, a puzzle that needs to be worked out. Pain, too, is often perceived as a problem to be solved and therefore vanquished. I don't know anyone who would say pain is an exciting problem to solve, but it is insistent.

Another of my many scientifically unsubstantiated theories revolves around the idea that illness and/or pain may be, in and of themselves, problem solving techniques. A hangover is the result of drinking too much, but it is also the body's way of solving the problem of too much alcohol in the system. A cold solves the problem of accumulated environmental toxins.

I think of cysts and benign tumors as pearls, i.e. the body's way of wrapping itself around irritants both physical and emotional. Oysters solve the problem of irritants the same way, with far more beautiful results. The discomfort that accompanies cysts and tumors points to something worth contemplating. Don't ask me what that something is! It depends on the individual and location of the growth. When clients have tumors surgically removed, I recommend they put everything they don't need any longer (metaphorically) into the growth. When it is removed, so is the problem or situation or way of thinking that has passed its expiration date. It doesn't always work, but is certainly worth a try.

Perhaps it's ridiculous for me to believe people work through problems by way of physical ailments. Still, the idea resonates strongly. Right now I'm suffering from a very minor cold which I've characterized as my way of cleansing 2011 from my system. It was a good year, hence the cold is mild. I wish to begin 2012 with a clean slate. It's a harmless belief, why not?

May you work your way through every challenge you face! So may it be. Shalom.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

What a fascinating post. First of all, good for John Adams, to go out for 10 minutes and walk. Maybe some of our current leaders do that too; I hope so, but I doubt it. I use this approach when I have a problem too, and then sleep on it, or take a shower. (I feel supported by what you say!)

A tumor is like a pearl, isn't it? But not so beautiful.