Obstacles and Their Overcoming

“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.”

~ Aristotle (384-322 BC ),
Greek philosopher


Just as a question asks to be answered, as a pain calls out to be healed, so too an obstacle beckons to be overcome.

Imagine you’re walking down the highway of life, you turn a corner, and there before you sits a boulder of overwhelming size which blocks your path. What would you do?

Some persons would throw their hands up in plaintive despair. Forlorn, they might sit down before the boulder, and wait for it to move itself. It may be a very long wait.

Others might shake their heads, and just turn around. They might think they were mistaken when they took the path that lead there.

Still others, after carefully examining the situation, might: tunnel beneath the boulder, climb over it, chart a new path, dynamite it, detour left or right, hire a helicopter … do whatever is necessary to overcome the boulder, and continue on their way.

A capricious god does not place boulders in our lives to thwart our progress. It’s profitless to speculate whether the boulder is due to karma or any other cause. It simply is what is: an obstacle on our way. It beckons a response.

Persons who live as the causes of their lives and not as the victims of their circumstances experience that obstacles evoke from them an almost instinctual choice to overcome. Notice the word “choice.”

Although it may be habitual to collapse before an obstacle, or to turn back, or to overcome, still it is a choice for which we are responsible. The act of choice is the fulcrum point of our unfolding lives. Choosing to overcome expresses that quality of authenticity called “agency” (see “A Life of Your Choosing“). Moreover overcoming taps the seemingly inexhaustible ‘high and heroic’ depths of our Being.

How do you respond to obstacles on your path?


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