Monday, October 21, 2013

A Flipped View of Problems

A Flipped View of Problems

Sometimes, when you move far enough away from an issue, you can see it differently.  One time this happened was when I worked in aerospace, and I was on a flight home from a business trip.  Flying at 35,000 feet at night I felt “removed” from everything.  I wrote in my journal, and an idea emerged.

It seems that many (and perhaps all) problems contain the seeds of their own solution.  If you look deep enough into a problem, you will find clues.  At least these will tell you what not to do.  Knowing a problem well insures that you will not solve the wrong problem.  A really good problem will contain more than just some clues.  It literally contains a solution.  This problem will speak to the problem-solver and announce, “You can do this!”

Thus, there can develop between the problem and the problem-solver a relationship.  There are times that this relationship can be quite intimate.  In fact that is the key to the flipped view.

In the flipped view, the universe is populated by entities we call “problems”.  These entities are just floating around the universe, waiting to be solved.  What does a problem need in order for it to progress to solution?  It needs an “intelligent entity” to which it may attach itself.  When this attachment happens, then the problem has a chance to be solved.

So, you could ask, “Who is the agent behind a problem’s solution?”  In the flipped view, it is the “problem” that is riding the “intelligent entity”, much as a cowboy might ride a horse.

In the flipped view, I picture a kind of marriage happening between problem and solver.  Lucky is the problem that hitches itself to a capable solver.  That solver has intelligence and skills.  That solver is dedicated to solving a problem.  And, in a somewhat poetic sense, that solver loves his or her problem.

All this time while we humans self-aggrandize ourselves as God’s greatest creation, God is smiling at God’s best tool for moving a universe packed with problems into an ever more transformed state.  God is smiling because solved problems are satisfied on completing their eons long journeys.

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