The Plot To Steal Joy: Day 13
Day 13 Unfolds:
I remembered an illustration I heard many years ago which is etched in my mind whenever I get stuck in the rut - if you’re taking a train heading south while you had intended to head north, what do you do? You won’t continue sitting in the southbound train, pout, cry or complain that the train is not heading north. Instead, you’ll immediately get off the train at the next stop and board the correct train heading north. You will do whatever’s necessary to get you to your destination.
Isn’t it crazy then that we know to do the right thing in the case of a train ride but we don’t apply the same principle to life in general? When we’re faced with a problem, we complain, try and fail, get frustrated and give up trying because we’re not getting the results we want. Of course we’re not getting the results we want - we’re doing things the wrong way! Instead of whining and doing the same “wrong” things over and over, why don’t we get off the present way of doing things and try a new strategy? Why don’t we apply a different approach to get to our goals?
Unfortunately I have been in such a situation and am guilty as charged with continuing sitting in the “wrong” train and refusing to move my butt to get on the “correct” train. Why did I not change my approach when I knew I was heading the wrong way?
Because unlike train rides, life’s problems aren’t that straightforward and easily solved. There are many different factors contributing to the problem and many different approaches to solving the problem. Trains are clearly marked with their destination at the front of the train, the train number and destination are specifically displayed on the schedule monitor at the train station, and the train master announces the destination repeatedly in the train - the signs are clear and everywhere! You won’t get lost. Life’s problems though, aren’t as clearly marked with the “correct” solutions and strategies. Life doesn’t label “go this way” to solve this problem, or “go that way” to solve that problem. More often than not, we have to try one strategy and another and another before finding the correct solution. We don’t try, we won’t know. And with constant trying and failing, we get discouraged. We get discouraged, we give up. We stop searching for the signs to the “correct” train. We continue sitting in the “wrong” train.
What then is the strategy to solving life’s problems? First, let’s understand that problems are not meant to drown us - they are meant to expand us. Ever heard of the caterpillar who needed to first squeeze painfully through and struggle its way out of a small, tight cocoon before transforming into a beautiful butterfly? The process of pain and struggle are necessary to strengthen the caterpillar during its transformation period, otherwise it becomes deformed and couldn’t be transformed into a butterfly with strong wings.
There is no growth without struggle. Or in other words, struggles are essential stepping stones in the pathway to growth.
Problems are not fun, no they’re not, especially when they happen so frequently, but they are necessary ingredients in life to make us stronger individuals.
Secondly, solutions come in the midst of trying. If you don’t try, you won’t get any solution at all. If you try, you will get somewhere. I can’t guarantee that you will find the solution quickly enough, but you will surely find the solution as long as you keep trying. If you’re trying to get from Destination A to B, even without a roadmap, as long as you’re not sitting still in the car, as long as you are driving, you are getting somewhere. You might head the wrong direction and end up at Destination C or D. You could ask for directions and turn around and try to find your way to Destination B. You keep driving, asking for directions and keep trying to find your way to Destination B. After a few wrong turns and many miles and refiled gas tanks after, you finally make your way to Destination B. You could only get to Destination B because you kept driving. Likewise, keep trying. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and suggestions for solutions. Be open. Be teachable. Our problems are not unique. I guarantee you someone has travelled the same path and encountered the same problem, and found ways to solve that problem. We only need to ask and keep asking, try and keep trying.
I know this offers no easy and straightforward solution to life’s problems, but this is what makes life so beautiful and colorful, isn’t it? Chin up my friends, and know that problems are opportunities for growth and as long as we keep moving, we’ll get to our destination. Keep the faith, my friends, keep the faith! I am too, so let’s do this together.
The score today? It took a lot of digging deep to produce this: