Posts tagged ‘obstacle’

October 25, 2015

Sometimes you just gotta go through it

Are you facing a fear or uncertainty that’s stalled your progress in a particular direction? Remember this verse from an old children’s song:

Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it. Have to go through it!

Whether you’re encountering long grass and oozy mud on a make-believe “bear hunt,” or confronting obstacles (real or perceived) in day-to-day life, sometimes the only way forward is through!

June 22, 2015

The journey is the remedy

Ever faced a long, daunting project, the scale of which set your anxieties astir? Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did so when they embarked on a four-month motorcycle journey around the world, following a route that included some of the toughest riding conditions on the globe.

Here are a few tips from their book, Long Way Round, about facing down your inner demons and just getting on with it:

  • The secret to any long journey or project is to take it in blocks — little chunks that you can process and manage bit by bit. A week into their 29,000-plus-kilometre journey, McGregor writes: “Even now, I couldn’t conceive of the scale of our undertaking. For months [before the trip] I had been talking people through the map [of our route]. Now I was sitting on my bike riding it. . . . But I still couldn’t fathom the distance ahead. The secret, I felt, was to take the journey in little blocks. Morning til coffee break. Coffee til lunch. Lunch til mid-afternoon break. . . . By breaking it up into chunks, we’d make it manageable. But the moment my mind drifted to the bigger picture . . . , the journey became overwhelming and panic set in.”
  • As the journey progresses, it’s also important not to let setbacks and disappointments get you down. Obstacles will crop up, and when they do, they may appear overwhelming. But if you take the time to step back and examine your situation from a broader perspective — one that looks beyond the obstacle looming right in front of you — you may see that the bigger picture is more important than the immediate, in-your-face details. McGregor and Boorman faced abysmally difficult roads in Mongolia — so bad that McGregor wanted to pack up and get out. But as he talked about his dilemma with his team, he realized that turning tail would rob him of the opportunity to experience more of a country that was already affecting him on a deep emotional level. Fighting through the roads might be difficult and put the trip “behind schedule”, but did that really matter in the long run? “It’s hard here,” Boorman tells McGregor, “it’s really hard. But it’s also really beautiful and we just have to concentrate more on the beauty and less on the hardship. . . . We [need] to open our eyes to our surroundings. Any journey [is] difficult when the field of vision [is] just five feet ahead of you.”
January 13, 2015

Adversity is an ally that helps you grow

I just finished reading Robyn Davidson’s excellent book Tracks, a bitingly candid account of Davidson’s mostly solo camel trek across 1,700 miles of Australian desert.

Davidson’s inner landscape understandably shifts considerably during her arduous journey. At one point, she falls into a deep depression and arrives at an observation that I think holds value for how we handle moments of despondency in our own lives:

In the past, my bouts of gloom and despair had led, like widdershins [water-worn gulleys] to the same place. And it seemed that at that place was a signpost saying, “Here it is,” here is the thing you must push through, leap free of, before you can learn any more. It was as if the self brought me constantly to this place — took every opportunity to show it to me. It was as if there was a button there which I could push if I only had the courage. If I could only just remember. Ah, but we always forget. Or are too lazy. Or too frightened. Or too certain we have all the time in the world. And so back up the ravines to the comfortable places . . . where we don’t have to think too much. Where life is, after all, just “getting by” and where we survive, half asleep.

What I take from Davidson’s words is this: life’s low moments often point us directly to the issues, challenges or shifts that really matter — the ones that we must, at some point, overcome or address in order to grow as people. To ignore these “signposts” and hightail it back behind the safety barriers does us no good in the long run. We grow through discomfort, not ease, and we must tackle discomfort head on in order to realize our full potential as human beings.

In this way, adversity becomes our ally — a partner and collaborator in the exercise of stretching our lives and our selves to new heights. We’d never get to the point of having to choose “leap or retreat” (“grow or stagnate”) if not for adversity constantly forcing us down the road upon which that choice lies.

The next time you are confronted with a “signpost” in your life, what will you do? Will you muster the courage to stride past it into the unknown, knowing that the true value of your life ultimately lies in this direction? Or will you quail, turn tail and scramble back to safety, mumbling excuses all the way? The direction is clear, but the choice is yours to make.

February 14, 2014

You are on a hero’s journey

Inspiration from the book Transform Your Life: A Year of Awareness Practice by Cheri Huber:

“The best way out is always through.” ~ Robert Frost

We can waste a life trying to avoid. If we shrink enough, we won’t be a big target. If we ignore something, maybe it will go away. It doesn’t work. How do we know that? It hasn’t.

Today, remind yourself that you are on a hero’s journey and that you’re a hero for having started and for continuing.