Untangling Life’s Knotty Problems

Wm. Hovey Smith, Nov., 2019

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is an often heard admonition. Cleaning up after a camping trip brought this lesson into focus in a powerful way as I attempted to untangle a knot of three different sizes of ropes and cords after a trip through my washer and dryer.
Anyone who deals with cordage will find that one cord will twist, two cords will tangle, and three will knot. This truism was brought into focus as I contemplated a mass of intertwined rope and cords about 10-inches in diameter in the back of my dryer. The solution was to work the largest rope out of the knot first. Then remove the next largest piece of cord, and at the end the smallest cord was almost completely untangled and dropped freely from the mass.
The analogy to the human condition is that we typically spend much time dealing with the smaller items that impact us while the root cause goes unrecognized or is ignored. We should be focusing on the overarching problem that is the cause of many of the smaller problems, rather than being overwhelmed with the minutia of dealing with minor issues.
For example, say that a person is massively overweight. The obvious solution is to recommend that they eat less and exercise more. A little deeper look reveals that the reason the person is overweight is that they have nothing that is interesting or exciting enough for them to do, and they sit on the couch and eat all day. The real problem is that they lack meaningful work to do that sufficiently excites them to provide motivation to be physically and mentally active, so that constant eating becomes the default mode of their lives.
Some families who are constantly arguing with each other are often classified as dysfunctional, and few consider the question of, “Why?” It is not that they don’t love each other, or at least they claim to, it is just that what anyone says seems to provoke an argument. Perhaps the underlying reason is that there is insufficient money in the house to provide for basic needs with a little left over so that the family members can participate in things that they find interesting and pleasurable? The complaint from younger members that, “You never let me do anything.” Is often heard because the parents do not have the money to pay rent and put food on the table. Older family members may seek relief with alcohol or drugs, which compounds an already marginal situation. Some may have gone through rehab more than once, but the real cause of the problem, not having sufficient money to sustain an acceptable lifestyle, is not often addressed.
I am an advocate of continuous learning and development. This has been the focus of my books, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife,” which concentrated on middle management, and my more inclusive title “Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age,” which will be published in December, 2019, by Stratton Press. In these books I show how to select work that is time-revenue appropriate to help with immediate needs, discover exciting work for a person to do, and show how that work can be turned into a life-time job where the person is in control of their own destiny. These are one-book treatments of entrepreneurship that can result in a small business that can provide supplemental income for the elderly or lead to the development of a multi-million dollar corporation, depending on a person’s needs, desires, and personal drive.
In many cases, meaningful work is the lifeline that needs to be pulled from the knotty portions of life. Once this is done the numerous tangles of human existence that seemed so important will fall away, and those who have discovered their true callings can live more fulfilling lives.

Author's Bio: 

Wm. Hovey Smith is the author of 20 books, thousands of print articles, and has over 750 YouTube videos on line. During his life he has been a decorated Combat Engineer Officer, is still a licensed Professional Geologist, does stand-up comedy, and as an outdoorsman frequently comments on environmental and lifestyle topics. His current projects include a novel, “Father of the Grooms,” which is set in the U.S. and Sicily. This is a dark comedy where a Louisiana family of Sicilian origin goes to Sicily on a holiday and unexpectedly discovers that their two sons are to be married at the end of the week to two women they have never met. Should the guys refuse, the entire family may meet with an unfortunate accident on their Sicilian vacation at the hands of their Mafia relatives.