“There are no obstacles on the path, the obstacles are the path.” — Zen Proverb
One upon a time lived an old farmer who had worked on his crops for many years. He was considered wealthy because he had a horse to plow his land in a village where many didn’t.
One day, his only horse ran off. When the villagers heard this, they rushed to his home to express their sympathy. “What a terrible thing” they lamented. But all the farmer said was: “Maybe.”
The next week, his horse returned, leading with it an entire herd of about a dozen horses. The villagers rushed over, exclaiming at his good fortune: “now you are the wealthiest man in the province”, but all the farmer said was: “Maybe.”
The following morning, the farmer’s only son was injured trying to get on one of the horses and broke his leg. The villagers rushed over in alarm. “What a terrible thing,” they wept. “Without the help of your only son, how can you plant your fields by yourself?” But all the farmer said was: “Maybe.”
The next week, the emperor’s soldiers rode into town with draft papers as the country was going to war, but his son couldn’t go because his leg was broken. The townspeople once again gathered around to marvel at the farmer’s good luck. But all he said was: “Maybe.”
The Only Constant is Change
External circumstances, whether in relationships, career endeavors, socio-economic issues, politics, and the weather will be in constant flux.
There is no escaping this fact.
It has been my life’s practice to see the many ebbs and flows of these changes for what they are and to be invested in their outcome sparingly.
For me personally, this manifests itself commonly in the often challenging and complicated relationships that come with family. The obstacles I’ve had to work through with those closest have been the biggest teachers. I am grateful for them because I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Acknowledgment that life’s unfavorable circumstances are actually lessons is half the battle. The other half is to embrace the obstacles and jump over the hurdles into the ocean of clarity and wisdom.