Sunday, March 24, 2024

What's the Problem?

I am not asking a snarky question in response to a perceived glare from another person. It's not that I'm above doing so. I've reacted that way too many times. Instead the question is posed as a general observation of our culture. Whether it be personal, societal, economic, or work related we live in a quagmire of problems. We focus on problems, real or imagined. We believe these problems demand our immediate attention. We believe we are solution oriented. The label "Problem Solver" is something to be tattooed where everyone can see it. If it weren't for problems to solve, what would keep us busy? 

The problem is the need to be perceived as busy. As I not only look at life currently, but as I recall the past decades have significant problems been solved? Yes, certain real problems have been eradicated. Advancements have been made in agriculture, medicine, and technology. Yet food deserts, news deserts, and geographic deserts are expanding. Problems are outpacing answers. If more problems can be solved sooner by fewer people we will catch up, correct?  This chasing doesn't seem to convince people in the United States that problems are being solved. If so, wouldn't individuals feel more secure and exhibit more happiness? Is contentment increasing? A recent survey measuring happiness between age groups and countries indicates that the United States has dropped overall. Our lives are busier. There are certainly multiple problems to solve. Yet this appears not to add to our satisfaction in life. The viewing of screens, video conferences, and endless email threads create busyness, but lack solutions. 

I have intentionally decided to get off the "busyness train." My desire is to explore, as well as contemplate the world in which I live. Instead of attempting to solve perceived problems, I will investigate and embrace them. In developing relationships with reality and making meaningful connections, not simply scrolling and searching online, I believe satisfaction increases. The internal need to appear productive still exists. It has been fed and exercised for years. However, I am challenging that aspect of my life. I cannot solve major problems by increasing my pace. In reality, I cannot solve major problems. Major problems are addressed 

King's Cross Station in London
through collaboration of people who have had time to think and explore multiple dimensions. Part of staying off the busyness train is meeting with others in a relaxed, unencumbered setting. The buzzing phones, the twisting of wrists (not to see the time), and the need to leave in order to get to the next meeting will not be in that environment. Retirement doesn't equate to retreating and decomposing. I see retirement as a time to get reacquainted with a part of myself which was left on the platform when I boarded the busy train years ago. I am content to let that train leave the station without me!

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