Colleen Figg

Problems with no solutions

2008-11-21 09:51

Colleen Figg

We are taught from small that every problem has a solution, every means an end, every obstacle a way over or through. If you have a set-to in the playground the solution is that you report to the principal?s office and are subjected to a stern lecture and being frowned at over his or her spectacles.

As we grow older, reams of paper and now, virtual space, are dedicated to offering advice of one kind or another. If you raise dahlias and have a problem with rot or root decay, you buy a book or go online or consult someone at the Dahlia Club.

The odd dahlia may be sacrificed while you experiment with this solution or that one but at the end of it all, it is sorted. You get to the bottom of it. You eradicate it.

More serious problems such as financial debt or fiscal planning for your future can be addressed with the help of highly paid people in sharp suits who will come over with a slick PowerPoint production to show you the error of your ways and to recommend a very expensive path forward.

Teenagers who get out of hand can be taken to psychologists and teen experts can be paid who will patiently delineate the difference between quality time and quantity time for you. Soon you and your teen will be frolicking in sunlit meadows like those happy people in the medical aid ads do; a halo of light around their heads and Golden Retriever puppies lolloping clumsily after them.

Once you get around to planning your wedding you?ll have hordes of people at your door offering advice and encouragement on any subject ranging from the best man?s speech to what you should do if your prospective mother-in-law arrives in a hideous purple outfit with dyed ostrich feathers that clashes violently with your peaceful lime and tangerine scheme.

Potential minefields will be identified and negotiated in advance so that the situation of your maid of honour hitting on your newly married brother-in-law at the reception does not result in her and his wife tearing each other?s hair out under the main table as the evening wears on.

Conception, pregnancy, confinement, care of newborns, raising of toddlers, introduction to preschool and then primary and high school; career options for your university student, all of these decisions and options are covered in a myriad magazines and books.

When tragedy strikes your family, however, there is no advice, and no solution. There is comfort to be found from friends who want to help and there is understanding from people at work. At the end of it all though, when you have exhausted that avenue of support you are all alone.

I do not write this to pity myself, I write it as someone who has suddenly discovered an elemental and basic truth about the ways of the world and the real truth about helplessness.

I?d like to say I admire those others who have survived hearing the worst thing a parent can hear, the worst thing a spouse or partner can hear, the worst thing a young man or woman can hear and still find it in themselves to carry on.

If you could bottle that strength the world would lack for nothing.

Send your comments to Colleen.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.


SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.