Now that I am an adult, I am finding that there are more problems on earth than I ever knew existed. And these problems don't come in tidy little packages with directions on how to solve them. In fact, many of these problems are wrapped in bigger, increasingly complex problems. What is a would-be problem solver to do?
There are different ways of dealing with the knowledge that you are an inadequate applicant for the job of problem solver. When you realize that you are in control of almost nothing, you sometimes try to tighten your grip on whatever you can control. In my case, I became a perfectionist and didn't realize how much I was obsessing over the little things... until one day I found myself cleaning a stack of dusty papers by going over one page at a time. It wasn't exactly the most effective way to take care of the problem of dust, which is really not a big problem - especially when you compare it to actual issues, such as ongoing trouble in the Middle East or the high incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity in this country.
Since perfectionism had proven itself to be anything but perfect, I developed a new strategy to deal with life's obstacles: avoidance. This is a tough strategy to carry out, since problems tend to have a way of reminding you that they exist. But sometimes, if you keep your head down, bury yourself in daily work and activities, and blend in with your peers, you can avoid confronting those problems for a time. You use your own sense of inadequacy to convince yourself that you are not qualified to be a problem solver, so you don't feel too bad about your lack of action.
Yet somewhere deep down inside, you know that you are meant to do something more than pay the bills and go about your ordinary life. So you finally dare to start noticing the problems around you again. And if you're anything like me, the weight of what you notice is enough to bring you down. Sometimes you can stay down for a long time. You can get very pessimistic when you realize that this world has always had major issues and will continue to have them, regardless of your best efforts to do anything about it. And you stay down in the dumps... until one day, you realize that pessimism is just another way to avoid dealing with things.
Even though this world is full of trouble and uncertainty, and even though each of us is just a tiny member of the sea of humanity, we should take courage. And even though none of us chose our time and place of birth, and none of us know our time and place of death, we should have hope and seek guidance from the greatest Problem Solver of all. If we do this, we will find that - no matter how inadequate we feel - there are problems each of us can solve.