I don’t know anyone who wants difficulties in life. I’m certainly not sending special requests to the Universe for them. And yet, sometimes I will admit that I do take a ‘damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!’ approach to life, which isn’t an approach that aims to circumnavigate challenges.
That being said, it also makes me think of stoic philosophy’s concept of the obstacle being the way. The idea isn’t to find a path that avoids all obstacles, a life free from all challenges. The idea is that how you deal with the obstacle is illuminating and may be seventy to eighty percent of your life experience anyway.
“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” -Joseph Campbell
This quote came to me via Sifu Anthony over at flowingzen.com, as part of his Qigong 201 course, and I love it because I have found it to be true in my own life. I have never had deeper and more profound meditations than in some of the most excruciating and long lasting migraines. As I struggle to heal childhood trauma and go deep, get real, and be honest, I have discovered terrifying levels of emotional pain, and also… herculean levels of courage and determination. And I don’t think it’s just me.
I have a colleague who went on record several years ago saying that cancer was the best thing that had ever happened to her – and while the Internet trolls descended immediately, her point is her own: through her own moments of deep darkness, challenge, fear, and illness, she found personal depth, connection with others, and a life-giving hope that she says she wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Now, cancer has also taken people she loved, and so I’m sure it’s a mixed bag at this point, but her point stands, and it’s Campbell’s point, too; the obstacles in our paths can provided unexpected fruit, some of which might be objectively positive or negative, and some of which might be entirely subjective and dependant upon what we are determined and capable of seeing.
What deeper power within yourself have you discovered when life was most challenging for you? Share below, if you like.