Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Avoiding the problem head on

Valentine's Day approaches, and with it, a new blog project. This one will be the tenth iteration, and thus I wanted to do something special. My usual approach is to figure out a concept and use it as a template for new ideas - Relationship Statues is an example of that. This means I do not have a great deal of verbiage at hand on day one, and ever so gradually figure out what kind of posts to write. It's discovery and exploration as much as anything. This time, however, it is different.

This time, the new blog has a definite beginning, middle and end. And - more importantly - it is frontloaded to a never before seen degree.

This has me worried.

The funny thing about being worried is that there are different kinds of worry. There is the worry that the world will end, an all-consuming paralyzing worry. Or the worry that some dangerous element in one's immediate presence will spring into action, like a tiger. Or the worry that some elaborately planned course of events will fail to occur, leaving you in an awkward position (or botching that job interview). Or the worry that some unforeseen aspect will reveal itself and cause all previous plans to become obsolete - the factory closes, the application is rejected, the price goes up instead of down. Tangible, concrete worries about very specific things.

And then, there is my worry. I worry about capitalization.

That's right. Should I spell certain words beginning with an uppercase or lowercase letter? This is something I worry about.

There are two ways to understand this worry. One is to take it at its word, and face it head on. In the grand scheme of things, there are arguments for either case, and the matter can be resolved by simply picking one course of action and sticking with it. It might raise an eyebrow, but since it is consistent, it won't be a big deal. The worry is about a concrete problem that can be solved.

The other way to understand this worry is as a symptom. What I'm really worried about is not actually the capitalization (although having it solved would be a minor step forward). It is, however, a convenient thing to be worried about - thinking about it means not having to confront other things that are also worrying, but more indirect and difficult to pin down. If it was not this, the generalized worry would find some other minute aspect to zoom in on and fuss about.

This goes not only for this project, but for everything. Sometimes, you are worried about some minor detail because you genuinely do not know if it's this way or that, and the problem will go away if a solution comes along. At other times, the problem is not the problem, and the solution is to zoom out and take stock of the larger picture.

The difficulty is telling which is which, and when. -