May 15, 2014
The Meaning of Life

We need problems.

You've already got that box checked, you say? Stay with me. I am, after all, promising you the meaning of life here.

There is a continuum between boredom and panic. Neither end of the spectrum is sustainable for very long. On one end is the deprivation of solitary confinement. On the other end is the overload of sensory input in a life-threatening crisis. The prison cell is devoid of information, of choice, of obstacles. The prisoner can not solve a problem, so he invents conversations to stave off madness, anything to relieve the boredom. The crisis manager has too much information, a wealth of choices and long odds. He needs to block out some of the noise. Someone who can survive either situation is able to bring the extreme towards the center of that continuum. The prisoner fabricates problems, while the crisis manager simplifies, to focus on the controllable. But, neither situation is healthy. Achieving balance requires understanding our location on the continuum and discovering how much we need to move the needle.

We need enjoyable problems. In our work, hobbies, puzzles, games and relationships, there is a happy medium between rote busywork and migraine-inducing, sleep-killing early-grave stress. Find that balance, and you have found the meaning of life. The meaning of your own life. Of course, when I say "we", I speak of all animals, not just humans. Cats and sharks and ring-tailed lemurs need problems as well.

Wander, Tinker, Dream.