Saturday, September 17, 2011

Problem Solved And Considered, In That Order

Problem solving can be elusive. You can clear a space, maybe get a pencil and paper handy, confront a problem head on, and get nowhere. You can roll something over in your head for years and just spin your wheels. Sometimes, however, the solution comes even before the problem is recognized; the answer comes before the question. Sometimes the evidence appears and the puzzle just falls into place, effortlessly.

Life is too big a problem for me to solve, but I spend a certain amount of time working on it anyway. Honestly, I would forgive anyone who questioned whether life was even worth living. I frequently consider the quote from Oscar Levant: so much time, so little to do. And it's true, isn't it? How many novels can one read? How much music can one listen to? What, read another newspaper? Maybe get into opera? What's really new, really worth engaging with? Like Ann Frank said, it all comes to nothing in the end anyway.

So it was a surprise, a pleasant one, I will admit, when I recently discovered, quite by accident, that I want to live.

Down a few posts is a video of my Nok Airlines Saab 340B-Plus. Those bald tires were no joke, an accident waiting to happen, and I'll admit that it was a little worrying to me. Generally, I don't worry about flying commercial air, but I do have a prejudice against small planes. I figure that the more people are at risk, the greater care the responsible people, corporate entities, will take. If 300 people die, that's a big deal, worldwide news, people get yelled at. If 30 people die, it's easier to sweep under the rug.

So on this flight I found myself worrying about our chances. A blowout on take-off would be the worst, rolling the plane onto a wing full of gasoline at 140 mph or so. No one walks away from take-off accidents.

I found that I wasn't worried about dying, a brief thought about that passed quickly with little discomfort. I am of the firm opinion that dying is simply the end of everything. What's so threatening about that? It was other things that worried me. The stuff in my apartment, who'd get it? It would almost certainly just disappear. I don't have anyone in this country who really qualifies to get it anyway. There's a few dollars in the bank here, who'd get that? Not who I would chose, certainly. There's a lot of writing of all kinds on my lap-top, my legacy! Gone without a trace probably, wiped clean at a second-hand shop. My extravagant deposit on my rented condo, three months rent, over $1,000, a bonus for my land lord most likely.

These things troubled me, and then came the epiphany. These ruminations could only mean one thing. I didn't want to die! Or, in the alternative, I wanted to live, unless they're both the same thing. The evidence, unsought but rather dumped in my lap, showed that I was engaged with life. I was at least mildly pleased by the discovery.

People who want to die, or who just don't care, they don't worry about anything. They don't worry about what happens to their stuff. They don't worry if anyone's feelings will be hurt. They don't worry about pain in the interim. They don't leave notes, or, if they do, the note just says, “I'm sorry.” I wasn't like them at all.

I found all of this very interesting, and I hope that you find it mildly diverting yourself.


RAD said...

Fantastic post, Fred.

Anonymous said...

I could tell you choose to live--you're so vain!

fred c said...

It's an easy choice, really. The other thing comes so quickly anyway. And vain, yes, in my negatively-charged way.