On Outlasting Problems

Sometimes, the only solution to a problem is simply to outlast it.

I have a dear friend whose fridge died on her. She lost quite a few dollars’ worth of food in the fridge and needs a new fridge, as well. She and her husband are not poor, but they are not rich, either. Probably like the rest of us, they muddle along from check to check, putting a bit aside each month for a rainy day.

Also, like the rest of us, sometimes it doesn’t rain, but pours buckets. The rainy day account gets wiped out in the downpour.

She sounded a bit blue about it all when we spoke. Sometimes the small things are the events that finally send us over the edge, like those last drops of water that makes the bucket overflow. My usually peppy friend sounded discouraged: her bills and her checkbook were not on speaking terms.

Often, it seems that the only solution to a problem is simply to outlast it. We don’t have any real options to solve something, for we already are doing everything we can for the moment, and “all we can do is about all we can do”. After years of struggling to overcome Problem X, then along comes Y, and after handling that along comes Z, and then you start all over again sometime later when A re-appears at the front door. It never seems to end; life just keeps coming at us.

We only realize sometime later that the common denominator in overcoming these challenges was endurance: we simply hung in there, refused to give in, and outlasted them. It wasn’t our skills or our intelligence, our education or even our luck. It was our capacity to endure – to be patient and continue to slog along with no real end in sight until one day we realize that it is now over.

Not very sexy, but the truth. I have no fancy, succinct summary for this meditation, other than one from Winston Churchill, who said something like, “Never, never, never, never quit!” The solution to life’s challenges is simply to outlast them. Once again, the most simple is the most profound.


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