I have latched on to a new theory, borrowed from an idea in the book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***’. Catchy, right? It is this: Life is a series of problems.
Wait, it gets better.
We spin our wheels working to graduate from one hierarchy of problems to the next. As soon as we conquer one set of problems, another begins. Hopefully, our new problems aren’t as bad as the old ones, but they’re still our own. So we fixate on them just the same.
Think about the approach to food by different economic classes. At the lowest level, people worry if they they will eat. Take a step up and the poor worry about quantity. Will there be enough?
The middle class is fixated on quality. Is it good? It’s the friend who invites you over for dinner, but you can’t get a word in around the self-deprecating critiques of the meal. Too much salt. Not enough salt. (I don’t cook so I literally can’t think of ANY OTHER spice that could make or break a meal….pepper?) Meanwhile, it never occurs to either of you that there might not be enough to go around.
Beyond the middle class, people are concerned with preparation and presentation. Is my food pretty? How many Michelin stars does the chef have? Would this look good on my brunch spread? #Insta #postIt! #avacadotoast #whitegirlseverywhere True #firstworldproblems
Switch gears and look at the mother of all problems—relationships. Relationship problems evolve with time. Growing up as the oldest/rightest child, I struggled, (still struggle?…) to find balance between being sister and third parent, because they always reaalllly wanted to hear my guiding-light, words of wisdom…. As a young adult, we have single-people problems. How to choose between all the boys? or Where are all the men? It’s tough. When Adam convinced me to spend forever with him, we were living coast to coast and dealt with long-distance problems. Now worse and three years into this thing, we’re dealing with—living together in a New York studio—problems. It’s not natural for two humans to share such close confines, but the miracle is that I still love him. One day, God-willing, we’ll have crying-baby, dirty-diaper, never-sleeping problems. Oh boy. I can’t wait for all of that.
I’m not being negative. Au contraire. If life is a reflection of the choices that we make, we also choose our problems. With this perspective, I often talk to myself (as one does) and say things like, I love my problems! With each new layer, people experience major gains in the overall quality of life. If you’re doing it right, your problems will become hipper and happier. Most reading this blog are already at #avacadotoast and—which Christmas card photo makes me, I mean, my family look the best?—problems.
This world of problems is less like a revolving door and more like climbing a never-ending staircase. Every once in a while, remind yourself why you’re climbing, and look back at the problems in your wake. They have been training you for your today problems. Realize they’re never going away, and they become bearable. You might even learn to love them.
It is happenstance that I’m posting this on our third anniversary, but I kind of like it. We don’t pretend to have anything figured out. We just hope to be mindful of our choices, and continue growing and graduating from one set of problems to the next.