Being Friendly to Problems

On our walk this morning, Delycia and I took separate trails at the Peace Sanctuary, and at one point I came upon this view of the Mystic River.

As I sat for a few minutes, I thought of a problem I’ve been battling for the past few days, and I slowly started to see a truth I’ve often seen before – that a problem doesn’t require a battle. I was disappointed in myself, because it occurred to me that I’ve been responding to problems in these senior years in pretty much the same way I handled problems when I was 12 years old – by seeing them as adversaries and forcefully fighting them off. Back then, I saw life as an almost constant contest between me and my multitude of enemies, from sickness to storms to darkness to countless possible catastrophes, and it seems I’m still, at 78, sometimes wrestling with life instead of simply living it. As I sat above the river this morning, I began seeing this current problem of mine as maybe more like a river to be floated on than a battle to be fought. Maybe life isn’t so much a fight as a friend, a convivial adventure instead of an endless struggle. The best way to work with a river is probably to tell it to go where it will and you’ll follow, and perhaps I need to say something similar: “Proceed, problem. Take me to a truth I haven’t seen before. Let’s see what we can do together.” When I was 12 (and 30 and 60), I attacked my problems, and almost always lost. Maybe, sitting above the Mystic River today, I again found a new way.  

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a poem about Bill M., 87, Blessings, CT
He welcomes his problems
like lovable puppies.
He knows they prepare him
for further adventures and fun ahead,
so he hugs his problems
in heartfelt friendship,
showing them the thoughtfulness
that may inspire them
to share their beneficial wisdom.
His problems are his helpers.
Their companionable barks
are the neighborly signals
of fresh inspiration,
arriving and ready.

Below, a gallery of flowers from Delycia’s garden today …

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