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Problem Solving Blues

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I solved a specific problem last week, but once I did that I became aware of a much more general one.

The specific problem had to do with some American tax filing requirements for citizens that live and work outside the States that I only found out about last December.

At that point it looked like I might get hit with some hefty fines.

Fortunately, a lot of other US expatriates don’t know about the requirements either so the Internal Revenue Service has set up a scheme to help people like me avoid penalties that are aimed at drug dealers and money launderers.

I don’t do either of those things but I can only play the ignorance card once so I hired a high priced accountant to make certain the paperwork was filed properly and it now looks like her bill will be the only one I have to pay.

That’s quite a relief since for a while there I thought I might have to sell the house to cover the fines.

I knew I had not intentionally done anything wrong but I felt quite vulnerable so I considered this to be a really big problem that potentially affected my daughters as well as me.

The funny thing is, though, once I had done everything I could to put things right a whole bunch of other problems started fighting it out for my attention.

That’s the general problem and it meant instead of just enjoying the fact that I had accomplished something very important there was a temptation to get stuck straight into dealing with something new.

Sure, I had loads of the issues that had to take a back seat the past three months but I wish I’d been able to relax a bit longer so I could fully appreciate how well things seem to be working out.

My reaction was probably quite normal in these busy times but I also think it is unfortunate and unnecessary.

We are always going to have problems but that doesn’t mean we have to spend all our time tackling or worrying about them.

I should add here that doesn’t mean I think problems in general are something to be avoided.

As a matter of fact, I think we all like some of our problems some of the time. Solving problems provides satisfaction and our lives would be incredibly boring without them.

Problems can also be fun, although I have to admit they are often more fun when they belong to someone else…

A little old lady goes to the doctor and says, “Doctor I have this problem with gas, but it really doesn’t bother me too much. My farts never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I’ve farted at least 20 times since I’ve been here in your office. You didn’t know I was farting because they don’t smell and are silent.”

The doctor says, “I see, take these pills and come back to see me next week.”

The next week the lady comes back.

“Doctor,” she says, “I don’t know what the hell you gave me, but now my farts are still silent but they really stink.”

The doctor says, “Good. Now that we’ve cleared up your sinuses, let’s work on your hearing.”