In my life, there have been obstacles to avoid and directions to take. When obstacles are in the way, they need to be resolved and or navigated around. Obstacles need to be faced, because the metaphorical life pathway is never straight. Something is bound to get in the way, so life’s pathway is crooked. As well as the need to avoid obstacles, a life pathway requires a destination. How can you get somewhere if you do not know where to go? I am convinced that meandering through live is dull and unambitious. I have learned that recognizing the presence of obstacles in life’s pathway and the need for a destination will make life so much more liveable and enjoyable.
I have had to face obstacles and decide what is my destination. One good example that I wrote about is when I helped myself after my mother’s death and I resolved to come back to Utah. My mother’s death was an obstacle in life! To help myself, I gave myself time to think about it, and I chose where I wanted to go. I moved to Utah to be closer to family and seek a better life! And now, I perceive that my life is good and improving!
navigate around obstacles
In a Civil War political drama, titled Lincoln, President Abraham Lincoln is trying to get the 14th amendment passed by Congress. In one part of the movie, President Lincoln approaches Representative Thaddeus Stevens. Lincoln tries to convince Stevens to temper his strong and vocal opposition to slavery. This is needed for the 14th amendment to pass, because several members in Congress hesitate to vote in favor of the 14th amendment. If Representative Stevens stands up to blast the opposition to the 14th amendment, that could cause the hesitant members of Congress to vote against the 14th amendment.
In reponse to President Lincoln’s plea, Stevens criticizes the president that he is not strong enough against the members of Congress that would vote against the 14th amendment. Lincoln defends his views by telling Stevens about the values of knowing true north as directed by a compass.
A compass, I learned when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you true north from where you’re standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps, deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp… what’s the use of knowing true north?
Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln
What Lincoln says to Stevens is interesting. Stevens claims, since abolition of slavery is moral, there are no reasons to head in alternate directions other than straight to abolition of slavery. Lincoln compliments Stevens for his passion, but then Lincoln points out that heading in a straight direction towards true north, with the aid of a compass, is not helpful. Regardless of knowing true north, there will be obstacles in the way. The knowledge alone of knowing true north does not provide for a straight accomplishment. The obstacles must be navigated around or else one might get stuck. So the supposed straight path that Stevens wants to do is unobtainable unless the crooked path is taken.
In a display of political savyness, Stevens actually does temper his abolitionist speech later in the movie. He must have learned from Lincoln that putting on flamboyant behavior could have deterred the hard progress of the 14th amendment. He wanted the 14th amendment to continue unhindered by any anticipated obstacles.
I know exactly where I want to go in life, but just because I know exactly where I want to go in life doesn’t mean I’ll go straight there. I acknowledge that the path will be crooked and never straight. Obstacles will come in life that need to be navigated around.
know where to go
Obstacles and a direction wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t for the destination. I can go anywhere in life, but going anywhere in life becomes more valuable if I am going somewhere. So I must know the destination of where I am going.
One destination is getting to God. C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed details some of the obstacles that he faced when his wife died. At the end of the book, C.S. Lewis realizes that the goal of obeying God could seem like a road, when obeying God should really be a destination.
But then of course I know perfectly well that He can’t be used as a road. If you’re approaching Him not as the goal, but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you’re not really approaching Him at all.
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
If I want to get to God, then I need to have the goal of going to Him rather than aimlessly going down any road.
There are many good people in the world. A portion of those people believe in God and want to go to God. Depending upon the teachings those people adhere to, they obey those teachings in order to get close to God. But if those people have no intention to come close to God, then they are just following teachings with no real intent.
Or some people want to get to God, but do nothing. This is a strange case, because the desire is there but nothing is being done.
Another portion of those good people would like to go around doing good things. Those people are certainly obeying God because they would be watching out for their neighbor. But God needs to be in mind while good things are done. If not, then they are just walking around doing good.
A dialogue between Alice and the Chesire Cat, in the book Alice in Wonderland, can explain this point of knowing your destination and how to get there.
Alice asked the Chesire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
In a moment of absurdity, Alice is stuck with no destination in mind. She could keep walking around doing things, like attending a tea party, but she would have no destination in mind. If Alice asked the Chesire Cat how to get out of Wonderland and return to her home, then maybe the Chesire Cat could have directed her in right direction to go.
Knowing the destination dictates the direction to travel. If there is no destination, then there is no where to go. But things could still be done, although ineffective. Knowing where to go helps one to realize what needs to be done.
remembering the lessons of the past
When my mother died, it upset a perception that I had. I believed my mother would stay alive until I started to have children. I believed that my mother would be the loving grandmother to my children as she has to my other neices and nephews. I went through the stages of grief confused and a little mad. I knew, and later reaffirmed, that I had to give myself time to process my mother’s death. And so I did that while I was in Texas. There were a few mental breakdowns; nevertheless, I picked myself back up again and continued forward. Each time I continued after a breakdown, I further criss-crossed around this obstacle.
I may have been metaphorically meandering on a life pathway in Texas. I don’t believe I had much of a direction on where to go. I was just living life and surfing the wave. By surfing the wave, I was in a situation where I loathed the job I was in. They were directing me in a direction I did not want to go.
And so I realized that I started to have a direction for myself, and that direction was choosing what I want to do. I started personal projects to increase my skill level in web development. I started to reach out to managers and contacts to seek career advice. I connected with coworkers so that I could manage not being alone at the job. My moderate dislike for the job did lessen the more I realized what I wanted to do.
In the end, I decided to part ways with my first job to seek out a job that I wanted, and I found one! I have learned so much from that job, and I am very grateful for having worked there. Also while in Texas, I decided that I needed to be closer to my own family. It so happened that the new job I got was also significantly closer to my family. At the time, it sounded like a great pathway to take. And so I took it.
looking to the future
I have high hopes for my future now. I know where I want to go. Since I have been living in a great situation, I want to help and make a difference in the world that I live in. I know there will be obstacles in the way that could cause me to pause and consider my options. As long as I have a direction of where I want to go in life, then I can definitely get there no matter what stands in my way.
Post script: I have to write a side note here, and I have to give credit where credit is due. I have been passing off my posts by my girlfriend seeking her critique. She has been able to point out effectively where my ideas are too general and not flowing from point to point. Thanks to her, I have been able to modify this post, and numerous other posts to be way more effective. Thank you so much.