Thursday, December 30, 2004

The solution is the problem

ITS perhaps too trivial to mention, but we've all confronted situations where life seems far from a bed of roses. We face problems.
If we examine clearly, few of these problems are really worth the anxiety and trauma they caused while they were considered problems. That is, until a solution was found. In life, just as in mathematics, we think in terms of solutions to problems.
In some ways, my argument is that genuine problems are not as frequent as they seem. The majority of situations that result in unpleasant , difficult or uncomfortale situations are not really problems. They are situations that seem out of hand when seen from one side but its just a matter of looking from another point of view, clearing the dust from the eyes and see the problem vanish into the solution. We think that we have found the solution. In reality, there is no problem and no solution to a vast chunk of situations in life. Just two different aspects of one entity, one with which we are comfortable and one with which we are not.
Let me draw an analogy here. We've all grown up memorising multiplication tables and working out addition exercises. 2+9=11, 2*2 =4.
While at school we called them arithmetic problems. 2+9 =? is an arithmetic problem, because of the question mark at the end of it, not because of anything else. And so we neatly counted on our fingers or used some other ingenenious way and arrived at the result or the solution,11, in this case. Trivial as it may seem now to most adults, it was once a "problem", and as we grew up we still called them problems, but a lot easier compared to other problems which we were dealing with later on in high school. 2+9 is 11. Problem and solution step aside. 2+9 is also 3+8. Its another representation of the same entity. But if we were to write 3+8 as the "solution" to the "problem" 2+9 =?, we would be marked wrong, or perhaps as right, along with some chiding for trying to act smart. So what is 3+8 then ? A way of representing 2+9 that is not a "solution"? But it is another representation nonetheless. Over time, this conception has built into our minds and thus we have an accepted understanding that it 11 is "the solution".
Not quite.
Its just a way of representing it the best way for our use or the most comfortable way of doing so. The point I am driving at is that the problem is the solution. Just that we do not know or look at it that way. In order to look at it that way, we sometimes have to do some rearrangement either mentally or physically, because a lot of us need to see it - as a solution.But that does not make the solution an entity different from the problem.It is one and the same.
To continue with the analogy, let us take an other problem, one that we face in real life, as opposed to one in a mathematics text book. We need to find the route to a cinema that has opened in the city, but we do not know where it is. So its a problem for some of us. What is the solution ? Look it up in the latest city map ? Call someone who knows ? Those are ways of knowing how to get to our destination, not the solution itself. The solution is in knowing that the destination can be reached in many ways. Knowledge makes us see that the problem is same as the solution. The actual problem in every case is the absence of knowledge, either fully or partially.But what we see as the problem is also the solution. To be really true, neither exist.
But that's another theory altogether.