Friday, January 18, 2013

To Everything There is a Solution


I have, for weeks now, been trying to get my browser to remember my username and password for 750words.com, the site into which I am typing these words prior to posting them on blogger. Somewhere along the way, several months ago, I changed things so that the browser would not remember the username and password and I haven't been able to turn it back on. Each day as I log into this site I've said, "hey, I should really fix that," but the several different tries I have given the problem have come up as failures. I was beginning to despair that the only solution would be to wipe all my passwords, clear the machine of all trace of this browser and start from scratch. That's a clunky fix if I've ever heard one. So, beyond my initial statement, I should say the following:

To everything there is an elegant solution.

That's easy to swallow as I type this in a site that I can now log into automatically, which is to say that it's easy to believe in elegant solutions after the solution has been found. The more challenging thing is to believe in them when still in the throes of failure. That, I have to admit, I'm not quite as good at. I'm not sure if there are many of us who are good at that.

The solution I've applied today isn't gorgeous. I didn't figure out where the root of the problem was and pull it out. Instead, I was led to install an extension to the browser which goes in and changes the setting at the root. It's almost as good and certainly effective. Still, there's a part of me that would have liked to have found a more elegant solution than this one. Not that I'm complaining.

Beyond the elegant or not-so-elegant solution is a space I need to explore further. It's the place in which I don't have a solution and have to live with it. I was deep in that place last night as I lay in bed. It has to do with my youngest daughter, Evelyn who is struggling with her feelings. Lately, it has been a matter of not feeling as though she is liked, not believing that her friends are really her friends. It's a tough thing to watch.

She has been bothered lately by the fact that she hasn't been able to arrange many playdates with friends. (At what age can we ditch the word "playdate"? I hope it is soon.) Her friends always seem to be busy and unavailable.

Now, she has had a playdate as recently as earlier this week. It's not that she has been months without a friend over or a visit to a friend's house, but to Evelyn it _feels_ as though something is wrong and beyond her control.

I've watched her over the past few years struggle with belief in herself. This is a kid who, as a toddler used to walk up to strangers and say, "Hi, I'm Evelyn, what's your name?" and then invite them to play. She was incredibly outgoing and sure of the world. As she has grown, that certainty has dissipated some. Part of this is growing up, part of it is passed down to her by her anxious parents, and part of it is the result of being in one class or another each year at school.

Whatever the case, I lay in bed last night trying to think of the solution. I was up for over an hour, well past midnight, and my dreams were filled with anxiety. With all that thought, I didn't find any solution. And don't think that doesn't piss me off.

It does give me a chance to understand that I can exist here in this place where I don't quite know what to do. I have no magic pill. Instead, I have myself and my understanding that she is struggling with this at least ten times more than I am. My solution isn't clear, but the way toward solution is to move closer to her. That in and of itself is a revelation to me. The other part, even more revolutionary, is that I have to understand and feel that I can survive without having the solution in my hands at this very moment.

Evelyn is more complicated than a browser, but maybe I can look for an extension that helps me work on this problem. There is Stephanie, my wife, Evelyn's mother, who knows more than I do. There are friends with kids who will surely sympathize. I might not be able to reach down deep enough to yank this out by the roots on my own, but there are tools and helpers who can make Evelyn's life better. I just have to be open to her, to myself, to the anxiety of not knowing for sure, and to the help of others.

Yeah, I can do that.

Write on.