Sidewalk Ghosts / Interview 476: “Create Bigger Problems”

I see too many people try live life and run away from problems. Trying to engage in activities. Trying to avoid problems. When yet there is absolutely no happiness without problems.—Helmut

IMG_0563cIt was my private time. 100 plus degrees outside today and with my car’s air conditioning on the fritz, stopping at Starbucks for a cool summer chill is perfect form for me this hot and muggy day (by the way, if you are one of the marketing group for Starbucks, can you send me some vouchers for plugging you so many times.)

Now you know I am Mr. Social Outreach, but even Richard. “the say hi to everyone,” Radstone withdraws into his solitude from time to time. Well, at least I try.

It’s 365 writing time, putting the final touches on a yet to be published story. Streams of ideas are pouring into my head, and backed by earphones filled with the music of Pandora, Tori Amos station, I am in editorial nirvana. Endless is the connection to inner self, and abiding to coffee house etiquette, I sink, reserved, blissful into the shrine of a soft cushion. Yes, I did manage to capture one of the few coveted comfy couches that Starbucks temps us with. No hard chair for me today. I’m here to stay and as I fall into the cradle of fluffed up pillows, I stake my claim. I’m here for a while… Don’t even think of it friend. It’s your turn to sit at table hard chair.

I know, what’s with the selfishness Mr.,”We are in this thing together?”

You’re right, I’ve fallen to my weakness. The heat has melted my sense of community, and I’m becoming the shadow dude in the corner. Free me now! Someone save me from myself!

Enters Helmut, the accented gentleman, who, like myself, has won claim to soft chair number two. My nature pulls me to look up as he secures his boundaries. You know, that careful placement of newspaper and beverage. Tag, his space is secured. Yet as he settles in, up his chin goes in acknowledging the room.

OK my friend, it’s on… you and I are going to talk and were going to like it. But, before I can reach out, the table turns as, with Austrian voice, Helmut tips his glasses with a warm acknowledgement and smile. Silently I’m reminded, “We are in this thing together.”

For over an hour Helmut and I chat as if old friends. He is fascinating and as we share many professional and personal experiences a lesson is learned.

IMG_0573c Helmut begins, “I see too many people try live life and run away from problems. Trying to engage in activities. Trying to avoid problems. When yet there is absolutely no happiness without problems.

“In life you get what you resist. If you are very afraid of somebody robbing your house, then somebody will most likely rob your house.

“The fact is, if we want to achieve a big goal, or a little goal. Any goal. Whatever it is, that is a goal, and it comes with barriers.

“Those barriers come in all shapes and forms. That’s what makes life a game, and if we embrace that game; if we embrace problems and look for goals; if we create our own problems? So that the problems in other areas—people, governments, God only knows what! The nature of those problems they create for us, which are usually unavoidable. We can’t escape them anyway, but they become a little minor. We have plenty of our own creations of problems to work on. It’s just that simple: Create bigger problems.

“Basically, love problems. Even the problems that come to you that you didn’t bargain for. Otherwise you will introvert into those problems and forget about your problems. If you overcome your problems you reach a new plateau, a new height. Whatever that is for you.”

Helmut grins a warm and entertaining smile, “Was it too long? Was it too much?”

“Life is wild,” he moves on, “the wilder it gets, the more fun it is. You’ve got to live life or you don’t live it at all. Why try to be living a safe life, when you are eventually going to die anyway, and nothing is happy.

“It’s just incredible. I mean, live life on the edge. That’s all it is, and whether that’s financially, it doesn’t matter what stage or age of life it is. Just do it, and trust me, all because how I live my life. But, it doesn’t mean I have an easy time in doing it. I have all my hand full and I definitely do not manage all my problems and my things. But again, that’s what it is! It’s life! In fact, if you go too many days without a major hill, then something is wrong in life.” His face glows with smiling wisdom.

’If you can’t live now, you won’t live. There are lots of people out there who lived life while shells were flying.” Helmut references his parents surviving WWII. “’They did not have all that much to eat, and what little they had to eat, they ate it in a bunker. But you know what? In talking to them. In living with them. It doesn’t look like they didn’t live life. It doesn’t look like they didn’t also have happy times. Just live today; because what most things we think will happen in a year or two or three, they don’t. That’s where more people go in and go, ‘Well, you know I need to plan better.’ No you don’t need to plan better. You just need to live life now better.

“The common denominator of all life…all life.… from a plant to an animal, would be to survive.” A few more minutes of conversation then, with signature humor, Helmut changes it to live.

IMG_0577I have to comment, “You are onto something thinking of survival instead of living,” I suggest—putting it into less selfish sounding terms.

I think to survive not necessarily thinking of the battle of the fittest. That “only the strong survive perspective” that has crushed far too many a nation and individual. But contrasting, I pose a question, that perhaps the way to survive is to simply engage with the world around us. To do the best we can now. To be the best we can now. To look at everyone else in the best perspective we can. To continue to live life on the path of a more peaceful and outreached form of survival, we may find new ways to survive whatever’s going on in this world; and, as we do we are going to keep our peaceful, our soulful selves. No matter what is going on. That perhaps to survive, it is really about how we look at, and respect, each other.

Helmut concludes, We really don’t know what is going to happen, and that’s a good thing.

Helmut my new friend, I agree. Thanks for pulling me out of my chair. Your words are wise and your council is insightful.

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