Puzzling Still Life

The Inestimable Value of Unsolved Problems

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Before getting to the brief text of today’s message, I’ve added three new parts to my essay Transcending Online Road Rage
“The serious problems of life, are never fully solved. If it should once appear that they are [solved], this is the sign that something has been lost. The meaning and design of a problem seem not to lie in its solution, but in our working at it incessantly. This alone preserves us from stultification and petrifaction.” — C.G. Jung


There is nothing you can learn from as much as a problem you cannot fully solve. Unsolved problems can be some of the greatest tormentors, but also the greatest teachers. Unsolved problems keep the mind hungry and the eyes open.

Small-minded people have found premature, final answers to great unresolved questions. Absolutisms and fundamentalisms abound for those who do not have the inner strength to live with unsolved problems.

Many of the greatest discoveries and epiphanies have occurred as partial solutions to problems never fully solved. The ego, of course, desires closure, but some life problems are only closed with the coffin lid. Our desire to pursue unresolved problems is a major part of what keeps us alive and searching.

One of the greatest life skills and signs of maturity is the ability to live with ambivalence, ambiguity and unresolved problems. As Deng Ming Dao says, “Never underestimate the power of a partial solution.” It takes wisdom, courage and inner strength to live with unresolved problems and to resist trying to close them prematurely.

Consider this a propitious time to take another look at the unsolved problems you live with and recognize their inestimable value to your soul. Allow your desire to solve them to draw you into the misty labyrinth of life. And as you wind your way though the twists and turns, pause to appreciate some of the partial solutions, and remember that the journey is the destination.

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