Friday, August 25, 2006

why are you here?

To me, problems are like dust: they're everywhere and as soon as you've cleaned up one problem, you'll find more somewhere else. Problems are part of an abundance economy - they are in infinite supply and they are never far away. That's why I am a little surprised to find that Seth Godin's remarkable idea for the day is that problems are our reason for being. Here's what he says:

"Here's the good news: the fact that it's difficult and unpredictable is the best thing that's happened to you all day. Because if it were any other way, there'd be no profit in it. The reason people bother to go windsurfing is that the challenge makes it interesting. The driving force that gets people to pay a specialist is because their disease is unpredictable or hard to diagnose. The reason we're here is to solve the hard problems."

Solving the hard problems is not why I am here. As a matter of faith, I am here to love God and love others. I am comfortable with restating that for a wider audience as "I am here to serve a purpose beyond myself and to care for the people who come into my life." Traditionally, that purpose is shared by people from many faiths and cultures. Like the challenges posed by Godin, it's a purpose which involves solving problems - the easy ones and the hard ones. It also involves a vision that says life without problems would be more worth living.

There is a difference between looking at everything in your life as a problem to be solved, and keeping your eyes on a purpose greater than the solving of problems. There is a difference between seeing a baby as a problem-factory (they certainly produce endless problems!) and seeing your baby smile.

I have another way to state my own purpose: I am here to experience joy. When necessary, I solve problems.

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