The #1 Sign Of A Stalled Life

I wake from a shitty night’s sleep, eyes glaring.

I feel it in the tightness of my chest, in the itch of my own flesh:

Today I’ve no strength for disorder, fixing, or bullshit of any kind.

In fact, I’m up for no problems whatsoever.

And so I go into the day barking and bud-nipping, ripping thorn from rose before it can tear the skin:

Hounding the kids to pick up every foot-bruising lego, wipe up every counter-staining spill, pick every wet towel up off the damn wood floor.

It FEELS like power: like man laying down law, carving order from chaos.

But in my gut I know the truth:

This isn’t me at power: it’s me too small, too beat down to play the real game: it’s me AVOIDING problems instead of SOLVING them.

When your life has devolved into a project of need and demand reduction…

When you solve not for adventure and expansion but to minimize the chance of shit going wrong…

When problem avoidance becomes THE organizing principle of your daily life…

That’s when you know: you’re no longer in the game.

Man’s great contribution is the solving of problems. No matter the weakness, no matter the fear, no matter the poor odds of success… you solve.

On those days when ANY problem feels insurmountable… when your confidence and track record are shot to hell…

The solution’s the same: stop avoiding, and solve.

THEN your life opens back up, the withered lung suddenly taunt with morning air.

THEN, upon that choice, you leap to the day, alert and kind. Not because you’ve tapped into some vein of patience or inner calm, but because the higher you is now assured: you are, once more, in play.

Civilization is, in essence, a collective journey into ever richer problems. The aim of life is not to eliminate problems, but to earn the right to tackle problems of increasing complexity, universality, and reward.

So glory in problems.

Seek them out, like John Muir climbing the pine in mountain tempest to savor the storm:

Make yourself a lighting rod for our most electrifying afflictions.

Bryan Ward is the founder of Third Way Man and author of the LIT Black Paper

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