Because we all know how the most mundane things can creep up on one, like cleaning air conditioner units, or let's say, going to the dentist for a proper tooth cleaning. These things must be done. So, is it possible to make them delightful? It will only be dark and lurking when there is no engagement with the problem, either through knowledge or imagination. Which isn't to say that one can imagine a new way to clean the AC unit - but it might make the process a little more interesting.
I think it is a most fascinating way of judging character by having someone solve a problem. And isn't it true that in the great centrifuge of the washing machine of problems, people show their true colours? And yes, we also show our own - sometimes, to our dismay.
There is a proverb in some cultures that states one cannot know a man until he has shared a quantity of salt together. The oldest reference to the quote I could find is in Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, somewhere around 1155 or 1156 (see here for extract). In this case, the salt stands for being worthy of love; being worthy of trust. For, one doesn't want one's friend to become a backstabber in problem times.
Salt represents purity, virtue, and a symbol and pledge of hospitality and friendship. Salt was used as money in ancient times - so was a thing of great value. We also know of religious or spiritual reference to salt, like in the Bible: you are the salt of the earth, but also in ancient Greece, where salt was thought pleasing to the gods.
What does salt have to do with solving problems? Well, it's in seeing how we solve our problems that we prove our worth in salt. Which isn't to say that we'll always succeed - there are "some tribes" who are weak this way, but we must keep trying to improve ourselves.
It also has to do with solving problems in that one's problems diminish the more one is rich in salt, oops, I mean, friends - who are the true salt. It has to do with how we are "hosting each other" as we travel through life. Remember ξενία? The courtesy shown to those who were far from home. But what we learn by looking at some of these welcome greeting ceremonies in more detail - like the Slavic tradition of offering bread and salt, we realise that what we are really talking about is the covenant of friendship. The "better or worse" of one's relations.
Life would be so much easier, of course, if everyone treated everyone else as their long-lost dearly beloved son, or daughter. But this has never been the rule on earth. Look at the Old Testament, for example. We have brothers who sell a brother into slavery, a brother who pretends to be his brother to gain his father's blessing. But to return to salt, and the warning of the 'dearly beloved', I was most fascinated to learn that in some traditions, Sodom is said to have been destroyed for maltreating guests who had partaken of salt. In some Talmudic traditions, it is said that Lot's wife was turned to a pillar of salt because she did not fulfill her role as hostess. In a complicated move of 'looking good on the outside, but being bad on the inside,' she went looking for the required salt of hospitality from her neighbours. But her real intent in doing so was to inform her evil neighbours of her guests' presence.
So, the next time we feel we have a problem, we need to ask ourselves how we face this mendicant problem. Do we seek to deceive or hate it? Or do we seek to take it in as our own, and meet it gracefully, with the correct offerings?
It is a mistake to think that life is to serve us all of the time. Sometimes, we are asked to show a little courtesy. And a little character.
Above the coals, the smoking fragments turns,
And sprinkles sacred salt from lifted urns. (Illiad ix)