Are failure and success two sides of the same coin? If so, what do we call that coin? Many philosophers call it the dialectic: the notion that opposites are intertwined and overcome one another in a sacred dance that’s difficult to spot; however, once spotted, one sees it everywhere one looks. It’s said that opposites attract but there’s clearly more to it than that. The theme of this issue is Dialectical Dealings: Problems That Are Solutions and our goal is to help readers reconceptualize their baggage.
In “What’s the Opposite of a Suicide Note?” Juliet Ramos remembers how hitting rock bottom ultimately allowed her to thrive and treasure life. Likewise Kathleen Nitting, in “You Have to Get Lost to Be Found,” discusses how resisting surgery may have not helped her acute symptoms but nonetheless led her on a journey that changed her life for the better. Both of these articles speak to the way in which a problem can be transformed retroactively into a solution. In other words, all’s well that ends well. On that note my article, “The Death Instinct: What Is It Really?,” explores the sources of negativity that invade our conscious and unconscious will. I explore what several seminal psychoanalysts think about people who unconsciously take pleasure in their symptoms and how dependent transference can resolve the childhood traumas behind this unbeknownst masochism.
According to Brittany Bass’s article, “Putting Presumptive Problems into Perspective,” all problems can be looked at as lessons that reveal whom your symptoms support. In a similar vein Lance Thompson, in “One Man’s Problem Is Another Man’s Solution,” suggests that it’s all about perception. As such, we shouldn’t judge people who have what appear to be unhealthy habits. On a deeper level, Bass and Thomson agree that it doesn’t make much sense to view issues you might be facing as objective problems if you’re spiritual. Speaking of spirituality, Heather Prince discussed ancestral healing in “Generational Generosity: On Taking One for the Team.” She wants us to see that some of our problems are hundreds of years older than we are, and we may be voluntary martyrs healing the shadows that we all inherit for the sake of future generations.
Sheri Sayar—in “Those Who Cannot Repair Relations Are Condemned to Repeat Them“—and Nina Welch—in “Without Darkness There Cannot Be Light“—concur: problems left unsolved will repeat themselves. Beyond that Welch claims that the times in our life that we might call problematic are often the times in which we grow the most. Sayar says that we should actually allow our problems to become our compass, like dowsing rods used for divination. Channeling both authors Sarah Wheeler’s article, “That Time of the Month: Not My Problem,” explains why she decided to allow her body to menstruate after quite a few medically-enabled, period-free years and why she’s excited to see where it takes her.
Personally, I learned quite a bit from those who contributed to this issue. It’s a lot to take in. While you digest these insights let me posit a little more food for thought—this is what Norman Peale believed: “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.” I don’t know if he knew it or not but Peale’s evocative statement alludes to Georg Hegel, the father of philosophical dialectics, who was known to metaphorically illustrate the concept of aufgebung—i.e., creative destruction—by pointing out that a Granny Smith is simultaneously an apple and a potential tree or even an orchard. How do you like them apples seeds?