to live life, you need problems?

December 28, 2018
For a while I've been living in mild, uncertain disagreement with this quote:
To live life, you need problems. If you get everything you want the minute you want it, then what’s the point of livin’?
Jake the Dog in Adventure Time.
My counterpoint to that has been: I don't think the point of life is solely in the struggle of it- maybe not even mostly. Existentially we are enabled and required to define the greater purpose of it all for ourselves. Problems may be merely obstacles to said greater purpose, unless we've decided that the struggle with those problems is the point, as maybe Jake has done.

A possible counterpoint to my counterpoint is that learning to deal with problems is an important part of learning to deal with life, no matter what we take the point of life to be. If we don't get practice facing the small problems, we are more at risk for being swamped by larger ones. (On the other hand a densely packed series of problems may just wear us down and leave us more vulnerable to collapse. What doesn't kill us doesn't always make us stronger.) So in this model, problems we get through are critical to showing us the way to future problem solving.

So the countercountercounterpoint is - man, what the hell kind of silver lining is that? The silver lining to this gray cloud of a problem is just the promise of more damn gray clouds? Yeesh.

To unravel this gordian knot I've made of "are problems necessary?" I will slice with "problems are". They are likely there whether we accept them placidly and in good humor or rail against the unjustness of the universe or split the difference and learn from things to try and have fewer problems in the future. Amor Fati, love this fate, because there is no other.
On FB, Matt McIrvin said
I think of Mark Twain's vision of heaven: there are problems and there's work to do, but it's somehow arranged so you get to do the kind you find interesting.
In followup conversation, he clarified that as Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven - a great piece that tries to get some sense of the incredibly vast scale a universe-encompassing Heavenly afterlife would entail.

Part of my response was:
So up there I make reference to everyone's existential right and duty to figure out what it's all about for themselves; for me (personally) it's to aid and abet the creation of categorical novelty in the universe; that in this quarter of the universe humans seem uniquely able to create new categories of things that wouldn't exist otherwise, and so I try to aim my life to supporting that, and so support both humanity's stability and freedom.

And I try to create some of that novelty myself; both for the pleasure of making things towards my existential goal, and for the ego-gratification (or perhaps, reassurance) of being a person who can make such things. So of course to maximize the latter, challenges should be something that needs to be difficult for people in general but easy for me, I guess.

Of course that's me soaking in a bath of Dweck-ian "Fixed Mindset"; since I don't have an intuition that groks personal growth, I prefer to be seen as someone with innate abilities for whom things are easy, rather than as a person made of more ordinary potentials who overcomes great personal challenges.

TIL: Meghan Markle is a different person than Angela Merkel
I thought this was a pretty good macro summary of the USA economy from post-WW2 to now. Interesting to think about what started after WW2 in part to avoid another depression..