A Quick Read On An Unexpected Strategy To Resolving Restless Problems

Emily Steele
2 min readMay 25, 2022

A couple weeks ago, I was riding my bike along the river when I noticed a word spelled out in rocks on the riverbank. The rock-spelled word was laid out such that a person standing on the opposite bank could read it.

It reminded me of the giant messages beachgoers leave in the sand for balcony-onlookers to read from afar.

Photo by Ashley Whitlatch on Unsplash

As I pedaled past it, I tried to decipher what the Word In The Rocks was, but it looked mostly like a series of odd geometric shapes from my view.

I rode along and decided it was probably only legible from far away.

Weeks have passed since, but something about that illegible riverbank rock-word stayed with me.

How many other things in life are best understood from a distance?

How often am I too close to something to really understand it?

When could a shift in perspective help something become clearer?

With my relationships, my work, my family, current events — I often feel frustrated by my lack of understanding, and my gut reaction is to blame the “thing.”

→ “____ is giving me anxiety.”
→ “He’s stressing me out.”
→ “She’s annoying me.”

But just like the problem was not the word on the riverbank that day but rather my proximity to it, such is the case with other things I may not understand.

The problem might not be “the problem.” It might just be our proximity or perspective.

For me, it’s difficult to leave a problem alone once it arises.

Like a kid with a scab, I tend to want to just pick, pick, pick until the thing is resolved, believing that my “picking” will indeed lead to the issue’s eradication.

I struggle to put distance between myself & the things that keep me up at night or simply keep me distracted from the present, because I want to just play whack-a-mole with my fears, anxieties & casual nuisances as they arise.

Sometimes, though, if we back away and gain some distance, the “mole” will either crawl back in his hole by his own accord or it will seem to shape-shift before our eyes as we realize it really wasn’t all that serious of an issue in the first place.

In any case, backing away and leaving things be can be a perfectly wise & effective strategy. We need not always put out all the fires. Some extinguish themselves. Some we learn to live with. Some end up being a welcomed source of light and warmth.

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Emily Steele

lifter of heavy things: thoughts, words, weights, burdensome beliefs