Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Why would we want to choose problems? Life can be so beautiful, why tarnish it? It’s true that we can create a beautiful life. The catch is that we’ll also create many problems.
Choosing our problems
We will always have problems. Some of them will be completely unexpected, out of our control and due to luck. Many of our problems, however, are outcomes of our decisions and actions.
We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. ~Khalil Gibran
Making a choice, making a path
Our choices create paths in our lives. From these paths flow our joys and sorrows. If we make a different choice, we create a different path which, in turn, will bring us different joys and sorrows.
How do we know this? Every time we look back and sigh with the 20/20 clarity of hindsight. Here is where we can get tripped up: we mistakenly believe that if we hadn’t made a particular choice, then we wouldn’t have problems. It looks like this: “If only I hadn’t done X, then I wouldn’t be slammed by Z. If I weren’t slammed by Z, my life would be awesome!”
What is true is that we may not have that particular problem. We would have a different problem, as in: “If only I hadn’t done X, then I wouldn’t be slammed by Z. I should have done A, then I’d have been slammed by C.” Maybe a C-slam is better than a Z-slam. It’s tempting to view it that way; however, it can be difficult to accurately gauge C without experiencing A.
How about we make better decisions and avoid Z- and C-slams altogether? That would be nice, but life doesn’t work that way. The problem-slams cannot be avoided, not even by living as a shut-in.
This blows! What kind of article is this, anyway?
I know and I’m sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger. Life is hard. Life is full of problems. These are universal truths. Fighting universal truths is a waste of energy. Better to focus on what we can do about it. So, what can we do?
We can learn from everything and avoid the preventable problems. This sounds easier than it is, of course. If we can’t do that, then we can keep learning and not make the same mistakes twice. Or three times.
Creating beauty in the midst of problems
The very best we can do is create a beautiful life in the midst of our problems. That may sound like a contradiction. How can life be beautiful when it’s full of problems? It can because it has to. The only people without problems are laughing at us from the graveyard. Which brings us to:
Find what you love and let it kill you. ~Charles Bukowski
We can take this literally. The thrill-seekers among us will immediately shift into warp speed. Other gears are also available. To enjoy the fullest potential for beauty in our lives we should find what we love and let it infuse everything.
Finding our loves
Finding our loves will bring us our greatest joys and sorrows. Our joys will shine light onto our lives; our sorrows will give the depth of shadow. The loves in our lives, in all their complex splendor, will balance out our problems.
If we’re wise, determined or lucky, the beauty of our lives will override all else. When we ponder our lives it will look like this: “If only I hadn’t done X, then I wouldn’t be slammed by Z. But if I weren’t slammed by Z, I wouldn’t have experienced Y. Wasn’t Y the most amazing thing ever? My life is awesome because of Y! So, there’s Z…but look at Y!”
Here’s looking at Y, Kid. ~Rick, in Casablanca (adapted)