Question 12 – Does every problem have a solution?

Salute Your Solution is a pretty good song.  I’m not sure what it’s about, or if it’s about anything.  I like most of the music Jack White makes but as far as I can tell he’s kind of a douche.  Nirvana was my favorite band when I was a young feller and Kurt Cobain seems to have been a total douche.  Maybe I like douche music. 

My buddy Chester Cheetah and I often (well not now, but in the old days before the covid) argue about solving problems versus eliminating them.  Such as, if your problem is that your neighbors shoot fireworks at your house and then kick you in the belly and groin if you ask them to stop I say that moving solves your problem.  CC says that’s just avoiding the problem.  To me that’s a difference in semantics that doesn’t matter, to him it matters a lot.  The problem is mitigated, that’s good enough for me to call it solved.  Old Chester is probably the person I have the second most conversations with about society’s ills and is the person with whom I am talking at cross-purposes most of the time.  Out of my close dear friends I’ve have for decades we have the least in common when it comes to having ground to talk about things in the same way.  But he seems to enjoy it so why not right? 

In terms of the question at hand, I say no – not all problems have solutions.  I understand that in order to get anything done we have to assume that all problems do have solutions but I don’t think that it’s true.  Although as per usual maybe it comes down to a semantics argument.  It doesn’t happen too much anymore because in my new job (and by new I mean I’ve been doing it almost three years – times flies you know) no one cares about what I’m doing even a little, but in my old job I used to work on group projects a lot and invariable someone would be struggling with something and they’d slam their fists down on the table and say “There has to be a way to do this!” and I would think “No there doesn’t”. 

I’ve certainly picked up on a trend people have that if they want something they assume it must be possible.  Probably it’s proof that all those motivational posters are working.  It’s a tricky business because wanting something doesn’t make it possible at all, but you don’t want to tell everyone to give up and go home and lie facedown on the floor and cry either.  I think properly motivating people might in and of itself be a problem that has no solution.  The root of the issue is that you/we/whoever don’t really know who can do what.  There are people out there who can do anything they want (except things that they can’t do) and if you don’t tell them that and encourage them that they can do it then they not do them.  So since we don’t know who these people are we tell everyone they can do anything, even though most of them can’t do anything.

And it’s that second part where things turn ugly.  I think that a lot of the horrible behavior in the world stems from the those people being told if they wanted it enough they would become sports superstars or rock gods or people famous who are famous for no reason and then they turn around and they’re in their thirties and those things didn’t happen and instead they work a shit job and have nothing going and they become bitter and resentful.  And in a way you can’t blame them because they were lied to, and nobody likes being lied to (well probably someone does but you know that I mean).  They couldn’t do those things they were told they could do, they didn’t have the goods, and no amount of wishing for it of even hard would could change that for them. 

There’s a notion that as long as you grind and keep pushing and never give up eventually you’ll achieve your goal.  But many people work their ass off their whole life and accomplish nothing.  It’s one of those selection biases that you hear about on the TV.  The only people giving motivational speeches about how they never gave up and now they’re wealthy billionaires who get to tell other people about their struggles are the people that made it.  No one asks the thousands of people who failed and drink a bottle of Jack Daniels every day to come out and tell people about how they never gave up either and their lives didn’t amount to anything. 

It’s a real pickle because you have to cast a wide motivational net to capture the people that are super cool and will become awesome in the future, but in doing so you also sweep up a lot of riff-raff who are getting a confusing message about how they don’t suck when they clearly do.  It’s like those giant nets they use to catch the tuna – they also annihilate every other living creature in a fifty mile radius.  I wonder if the guy who invented the kill everything in the sea net is proud of himself.  Probably.  He accomplished more than most people ever will.  How many people can say they invented something that directly led to the extinction of dozens if not hundreds of species?  Not too many.  That’s something you can really hang your hat on.  On which you can hang your hat I mean. 

This probably sounds like my usual pessimist message of “never try” but I don’t mean for it to be.  I think my message would be “You should try, but be prepared to fail because you probably suck.”  That could be a bad message too though.  I’ve watched and listened to a LOT of wrestling documentaries and podcasts – A LOT.  Maybe that’s what I was put on this earth to do.  And I’ve definitely heard two schools of thought from wrestlers about how to think about things early on when you’re trying to make it.  Some of them made sure they had a back-up plan, they knew going in that wrestling is a hard business to get into and an even harder business to make money at.  So they had a back-up plan.  Seems reasonable, very much so.  But then some people went the other way – they specifically chose not to have any other options because their feeling is that if you have a parachute then you’re giving yourself and “out” and that’s bad.  When times are tough you might give up if you have another choice, but if you have no option but to forge ahead then you have no option but to forge ahead.

On this face of it this seems like an insane strategy, but I can see value in it.  There’s something to be said for desperation.  I feel like a lot of people fail at this because the people doing them don’t fully commit – they try a half-measure and that doesn’t give you a good chance to succeed.  I think this notion or theory or whatever you call it is really about commitment, and I think once you decide to do something you have to commit yourself to doing it.  As I often say (to no one) when you decide to go, or when it’s decided for you that you’re going to go, you have to commit to going all the way – none of this halfway bullshit.     

And I yes I realize the irony of me talking about motivation since I am one of the least motivated people around.  Remember the movie Office Space?  It had that guy in it who I always get confused with Paul Rudd.  Ron Livingston maybe.  I’m not sure they even look that much alike but for some reason I often get them mixed up.  Anyway, in that movie there’s a scene where he and the guy who had a small role on Veep (and has small roles in tons of things) are talking about what you’d do if you had a million dollars and Not Paul Rudd said that he would do nothing.  Small Role Guy says something like “You don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, look at my cousin, he’s broke and he doesn’t do shit.”

So I guess I have more motivation than some people, because there are people who don’t do anything “constructive” and I do some stuff.   I used to see them when I went to play games at places.  But I wouldn’t do anything if I didn’t “have” to.  I think if there’s anything about me that really and truly bugs my lady love it’s that lack of motivation.  In a way we’re a hilariously mismatched pair because I see her as one of these goal-orientated archiver types and I’m more of a fatman in a comic book shirt not doing a nothing.  Which is interesting because a lot of my closest and dearest friends (not Chester) are motivated highly people like that as well.  So there must be something appealing about that combo, which makes a certain kind of sense.  It’s like a ying-yang thing, it’s probably hard for two go-go Reaganauts to have a deep and meaningful friendship because they’re too busy achieving all the time to get together.  It’s too much yanging and not enough yinging. 

Sidenote, an imbalance of positive or negative chi is one of the easier ways to achieve immortality but it’s also one of the worst to maintain because you constantly need to be infusing yourself with more chi.  You look better with a positive chi (yang) imbalance because you’re vibrant and full of life, but harvesting positive chi is much harder.  The only practical way to do it is to become sedentary in the world at a place that has a “natural” yang imbalance and use that energy to maintain the imbalance in your body.  There is also a physical drawback because the positive chi causes your belly to expand in a weird way like you have a massive goiter or something.  Are goiters only on the neck?  You know what I mean.  It’s very difficult to find enough “loose” yang energy floating around to maintain the imbalance if you want to move around. 

That’s why the yin-imbalance immortal is more common even though it makes you look like a corpse.  Yin energy is easier to come by because people release it when then die, and it “pools” in areas where a lot of people died.  Yin-immortals are often mistaken for vampires because of their gaunt and unhealthy appearance coupled with the fact that they’re always hanging around hospitals and such talking about feeding.  Many yin-immortals also learn magic so they can disguise their awful appearance, but from what I’ve been for reasons no one really understands they have a hard time covering up their foul body odor even with magic.  One of the little mysteries of the universe.

Immortality aside though, my feeling is that not all problems have solutions, but I understand why we have to pretend that they do – because you never know you know?

2 Comments

  1. You like the Foo Fighters so it’s not 100% douche music. You like Big Rock Candy Mountain and Harry McClintock was the king of douche mountain. (I honestly know nothing about the man)

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