Focus on the problem or focus on the solution? Is it the math equation or the answer, the theorem or the proof? Problems are elegant, captivating, maybe laden with emotional value, bereft with implied burdens or provocative in nature. Often, a problem rings our bells and gets us fired up. We can get distracted by the problem, lost in the problem, enraged and consumed by it. This pattern surrounds us, envelopes. The litany of griefs abounds: childhood obesity (any obesity), gas prices, the cost of insurance(any variety), taxes, road repairs, poor cell phone coverage, Common Core, sucky airline meals, blue nail polish, waxing body hair, immigration, college costs, home grown terrorists, prayer in schools(the absence of prayer in schools). The list is long, long, long. Like I said: a litany.
And we get lost in the gripes. Whole broadcasting media outlets fuel the griping and keep us churned up and aggravated. Angry. Eventually, it fatigues us and we feel powerless. We feel lost. It seems like no one cares. So why should we?
Therein lies the message. From the feeling of impotence, flows the answer, the proof, the solution. Focusing on what is WRONG, even getting bound up in arguing over the ordering of the litany of griefs keeps us from tackling the list.
Just like any To Do List, you have to start. You tackle the list. And in the doing, shit gets done. Little by little, the list gets smaller, the answers develop.
Anyone who has solved a math theorem on a board, built an organic chemistry model, assembled an Ikea bookshelf or broken down an engine knows that you rarely get it right the first time you try. You erase, you go back to the directions, you take it apart and start over. You get a C on the organic chemistry exam. That C is still a passing grade. You still get partial credit. And you get to move forward. The only people who FAIL are the people who do not try. The people who stand around bitching and complaining and criticizing or worrying but never, ever try to solve anything are absolutely NOT part of the solution. How can they be? The only way to be part of the solution is to attempt to solve the problem. Being excellent at naming problems – at nomenclature – doesn’t help solve any of the problems.
Now, we need to agree, at least partially, about the To Do List. And, we need show up with our sleeves rolled up, shovels in hand, chalk and markers, calculators and wrenches. It requires both muscle and intellect. These are not problems we can simply THINK our way through. The Talking Heads have to be reminded that the erudite pontification alienates the majority of people (even heavy thinking people) who have shown up ready to do some heavy lifting. Let’s just get down to business and stop being angry and afraid.