Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is life a series of problems to be solved?

My mind was on problems as I steered my bicycle homeward. One problem was solved, but another popped up. Was life a series of problems (or since I took engineering classes, problem sets) to be solved?

Well, I've looked at life that way: from the time we're born, how to get O2 into the lungs, how to get fed, how to get changed, how to avoid needing to get changed, how to get around, how to get attention (this one never ends), how to get my point across, how to avoid becoming or causing red asphalt... One big category of problems that gets bigger after forty is how to keep the old ticker ticking.

Oops! That last one has only temporary solutions. Another issue with all this is that life becomes one damned thing after another.

Well, rather than indulge in denial or despair, let me consider a third way: redefine the problem! Rather than "how to stay alive (forever)" which can't be fulfilled in this life, take it up a level by saying "how to live well" -- including how to die well.

Of course, the catechism was way ahead of me: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, so life has to be about that.

So life is not a set of problems or tasks, as I am wont to consider it; it's not a job. It's more like an adventure, a party. Or at least it can be. A quest?

This job business has its roots I think in the same corruption whence came the old Babylonian creation myth wherein the gods created human beings as a race of slaves. This is why the Israelites needed the Sabbath, and I still do today: to remember that life is more than work, that life is not work. Though life has work and tasks and problems, that's not what life is.

And thanks be to God for that!

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