I don’t believe problems without solutions. If something doesn’t have a solution, it’s more than a problem. It’s a dead-end, like that story you tried to tell when you went to the emergency room with a stalk of celery in a place it shouldn’t be. You slipped while making a mirepoix? Tell it to Escoffier, bud. I once got locked on a balcony in Monte Carlo. At its scariest time, it felt like a celery-bum dead-end. When I steadied myself, I realized that it was only a problem and in this case one solved by brute force.

A few nights ago, I rolled back and forth in bed. I felt horrible. For the first time in a week, I couldn’t sleep. Minor life problems associated with…well, what they are almost always associated with… were weighing on me. I got out of bed and–as my wife refers to my acute addiction to the Internet–climbed into the box. Among the first things I came across was a link from Guinness and Poker to a video of a guy who was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. The video was interesting, but I was more interested in the entire story. I found it here.

Suddenly, I was in a worm hole. It wasn’t just the story of Nicholas White’s imprisonment. It was eight pages of Zen. Elevators aren’t something we think about. In fact, we don’t don’t think about much, do we? Our lives are what’s important. We sometimes fail to realize that there are people who spend most of their lives considering the science and psychology of something we take for granted. The story also confirmed my long-held belief that the “Door Close” button in most elevators is like one on a Playskool toy. Doesn’t do a damn thing. Again, it’s pure Zen.

If the entire article wasn’t interesting enough, what happened to White after he got out of the elevator was. Don’t skip to the end. Read the whole thing before you see what happened to the guy…or, more accurately, what he did to make it happen.

I can reveal the moral, though, and it’s something I could stand to remember. Being trapped is either a problem with a solution or it’s the first step to being dead. If it’s the latter, you might as well grease up the celery and do whatever you like. If it’s the former, solve the damned problem. And, unlike White, remember this: If you are trapped and get out, make sure you get everything out. If you leave something behind–your heart, mind, testicles, whatever–you’re never really out.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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