Feynman’s 12 Problems
On the Art of Manliness website, I read this article about Renaissance man, Richard Feynman. It talks about how he always kept 12 problems to solve in the back of his mind. They ranged from the very random to the very complex (he was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist after all). He didn’t deliberately try to solve these problems. Rather, he had insights going about his day that helped him slowly get closer to solutions. Even if he didn’t completely solve a particular problem, he enjoyed the process of thinking about it.
Feynman’s “12 problems” is one manifestation of the ongoing projects many of us have. Maybe you have a car you’re restoring that you tool away at a few hours every week. Maybe you’re building something in the garage or restoring an old piece of furniture. Or you’re like me and discover new ideas to write about. But any of us can make prayer into an ongoing project that we work on throughout the day.
The Rosary as an Ongoing Practice
I often do something similar to Feynman’s 12 problems with prayer and the Rosary. As I go about my life at home and at work, I come across various articles, shows, books, and podcasts. Many times, those articles remind me of aspects of Rosary mysteries. I can then integrate them into my Rosary meditations. They provide me with “prayer fuel.” This way, I’m not praying the Rosary in a vacuum of thoughts.
For example, I may read the daily Gospel and then listen to a meditation about the value of patience. That provides meditation content for when I pray the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary whose fruit is patience. One practice, reading Scripture, reinforces the other practice, praying the Rosary. This practice doesn’t need to confine itself to drawing exclusively from spiritual sources. I draw inspiration for Rosary prayer from secular news, books, and shows. My life provides fuel for my prayers and conversely, my prayers provide fuel to face the challenges in my life.
Facing Your Day through the Rosary
This is what I meant in my books’ introductions about the Rosary being the lens through which I see the world around me. No matter the situation, there’s probably a Rosary mystery I can look to that will provide me with guidance or comfort. This is why daily Rosary prayer is so important. You need to constantly add new thoughts and experiences to your prayers so they will grow with you. In a way, the 20 Rosary mysteries act like spiritual scaffolding. What you build on top of it will be uniquely personal because everyone has different experiences.
I challenge you to make the Rosary something persistent in your day. When you consume media and information, try to think about what Rosary mysteries they relate to. When you pray the Rosary, draw on all your experiences and present them to Mary. Feynman may have had 12 problems always on his mind to keep him engaged but you will have 20 mysteries!