Not a Problem
Fixing is not an option
A great deal of human energy is absorbed in the endless pursuit of fixing things. From air conditioners to marriages, from computers to graying hair, and from the environment to our neighbors we have an never to be exhausted list of things that need fixing. We know from experience that things break. Our human attributes enable us to address most broken things with some sort of fixative. And, we do know that there are some things that are beyond repair; too far gone to be restored. These we pitch, ceremonially in a recycle bin or casually in the kitchen trash.
This breaking and fixing goes on at all levels of human (and non-human) activity. Mountains, trees, bird wings, and beaver dams all break. Fixing is sometimes woven into the natural cycle of things or is impossible.
When it comes to us, to humans, breaking and fixing is a complex dynamic.
A child is as easily drawn to squeeze or bang on something until it breaks as it is to gently fondle the delicate china cup or baby bunny. Both actions seem natural. Both elicit a response from adults. When breakage occurs fixing is optional, and sometimes impossible.
In some people the dynamic becomes personalized, morphing from simple cause and effect to self-identification. "I break things." "I am broken."
Gosh, it has taken me a while to get to the point here! For as long as I can remember my first reaction to crisis, failure, or loss is that I am responsible for the problem; that I am the problem.
I won't go into all the gory details.
Suffice it to say that the other major takeaway from the meditation retreat I attended ten days ago is the simple mantra, "I am not a problem that needs fixing."
My therapists, wife, siblings and friends have told me this for years. Whatever the reason, having just turned sixty six the message finally got through.
"I am not a problem that needs fixing."
This is grace. This is compassion. I get it.
I follow up this life-changer with these supporting statements:
"Thoughts and feelings will arise."
"I will bring kindness and compassion to myself and to these thoughts and feelings."
It sounds basic, like something I might have learned as a child. There are so many things that I can fix, that are genuinely broken. But I must have missed the lesson when Mrs. Miller, my wonderful and warm Kindergarten teacher, told us the difference between a broken toy and a sad boy.
I had a colleague/boss once who whenever asked about this or that issue would invariably say, "Not a Problem."
We're not talking bad behaviour here. We're talking self-image and daily self-awareness.
Not a Problem. Messy, but not a problem. Maybe dull, but not a problem. Maybe even broken, but not a problem that needs fixing.
(where chain saw blades go, blades that don't need fixing, just a little sharpening)