What would you do

if you didn’t have a problem to solve?

Well, for one thing, you would be bored. And given the undesirability of such a state, perhaps the tenor with which we discuss problems should be changed to one of appreciation (for the purpose problems provide) as opposed to wishing the problem would instantly resolve.

The above connotation shift is not a suggestion for intractable problems, for problems that may well never have a solution. In these unfortunate scenarios, there are no longer steps to take, books to read, experiments to run – there is just suffering.

But is your problem actually unsolvable? A temptation exists to label a problem in this fashion to excuse oneself of responsibility. Then again, if one can’t walk away from the problem, the whole suffering thing should dissuade the act of submitting to temptation too easily. Still, a simple test should usually suffice: can a stranger informed of your problem instantly derive actions worth trying? If so, you are far from exhausting possibilities, so dig in and embrace the purpose. If not, well, ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.