Sam wandered in his large garden as usual, among the falling autumn leaves. He arrived at the usual opening where he would walk into his favourite mud pool. The opening was through a stony wall where it had broken down many years ago. It was the easiest way to get through without having to scramble over the stony wall full of brambles and prickles. Today, however, the opening was occupied by the big, fat ginger cat from next door. He sat there, squared, occupying the centre of the space. Though he took up no more than a third of the narrow opening, he fluffed up, started hissing furiously and seemingly filled up the entire opening, just like a cork in a champagne bottle. He was immovable and the path was impenetrable to Sam as though there was no opening to begin with.
Sam sized the ginger cat up and decided it was not worth the potential harm that could befall him. He ran up and down the stony wall, searching for another entry so he could reach his beloved mud pool. About 30 feet to the left of the opening, he spotted a possibility, a little gap peeking through the wall. He scrambled up, enduring and braving the thorns and prickles from the brambles. He squinted his eyes to protect them from being scratched. After a few minutes of tussling, he managed to squeeze his lithe body through to reach the other side, landing into more brambles! To his surprise, he found the treasured tug-of-war toy that he lost months ago. Scrambling further on, he also found his half-eaten bone that was tossed into the hedge last week! He simply could not believe his luck. By being made to take the alternative path due to the obstacle in the shape of a feisty orange ball of a cat, he experienced delights that he would have missed otherwise.
Today, things will happen that will be contrary to your plans. If not today, then certainly tomorrow. As a result of these obstacles, you will not be able to do what you planned. This is not as bad as it seems, because your mind is infinitely elastic and adaptable. You have the power to turn obstacles upside down, which takes one negative circumstance and uses it as an opportunity to practice an unintended virtue or form of excellence.
No event or person is out to ‘get’ you. Things happen, intentional or not. The universe just is. Instead of allowing others or events (some call it ‘life’) to get you down, remember that you have immense power over your thoughts, feelings, words and deeds. Those four things truly belong to you and you alone. No one can influence them unless you allow them to. No one can make you feel bad (or happy) without your permission. That power resides solely within you. Applying this principle, it becomes evident that the meaning you give to an experience becomes your experience.
Events themselves do not affect you. The meaning you give and attach to them affects you. As you are aware, the same event happening to two different people can elicit completely different emotions and results. When someone expresses their love to you, you can either be elated or not, depending on the circumstances. The event is just the event. The impact and implication depend on the meaning you give it.
So realise that you have the power to influence yourself in any event and situation. How you utilise your thoughts, modify your emotions, shape your words and choose your actions will greatly affect not only your personal experience of the circumstance but also determine your personal growth. If you are struggling to find the lesson (or peace) in certain events or situations, it is also okay. We all grow in different ways at different speeds. We are all exactly where we need to be in our personal journey and process of becoming one with ourselves.
The world can be a very distracting place and would have influenced us in multiple ways, intended or unintended, resulting in our current paradigm, conscious or unconscious. Everything is in its own time and some things cannot be rushed. Simply keep the faith that life is happening for you and not to you. Seek the lesson and you will naturally grow. Whether it is by half a per cent or a quantum leap, it is still growing.
So, if something prevents you from getting to your destination on time, then this is a chance to practise patience.
If an employee makes an expensive mistake, this is a chance to teach a valuable lesson.
If a computer glitch erases your work, it’s a chance to start over with a clean slate.
If someone hurts you, it’s a chance to practice forgiveness.
If a relationship ends, it’s a chance to start a new and more fulfilling one.
If something is hard, it’s a chance to get stronger.
Try this line of thinking and see whether there is a situation in which one could not find some virtue to practice or derive some benefit. There isn’t one. Every impediment can advance action in some form or another. It is easy to think that when something does not happen (or goes wrong) for you that they are God’s denials when they are actually God’s delays. Many times, a ‘no’ is really ‘not yet’.
Where you may be denied what you desire at present, you will always be invited to seek the lesson and your growth can never be denied if you choose. Sam chose to allow his obstacle to finding another way across, exercising determination and learning an alternate route and was rewarded with a toy and a treat. What lessons and/or virtues can you derive from the ‘obstacles’ you face, if not, today, perhaps tomorrow?
‘While it’s true that someone can impede our actions, they can’t impede our intentions and our attitudes, which have the power of being conditional and adaptable. For the mind adapts and converts any obstacle to its action into a means of achieving it. That which is an impediment to action is turned to advance action. The obstacle on the path becomes the way.’ – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.20