Everything had been flowing along nicely. Everything I’d set my intent to and planned for had gone swimmingly. And then, all of a sudden it seemed, things ground to a halt, the flow dried up. Obstacles appeared.
Last night, I dreamt all night of driving racecars on a track. Sometimes I was inside the racecar, zooming around the track, the obstacle course. At other times I was playing with toy racecars on a toy racetrack. But the scenario was always the same. At some point along the way, I’d come to a big hill that I just could not get up. “Oh,” I’d say, “I’m not supposed to go this way.” And I’d turn around and go a different way.
By the end of my night of dreaming, I understood that if we are living in alignment with nature, in the Tao, there are no true obstacles; everything is there for a reason.
Some obstacles, it becomes abundantly clear, are impossible to overcome. We might be driving along the road to find it blocked by a fallen tree. Of course we could sit there and steam about it, but it’s pretty obvious that we won’t get through. It’s clear that we have to turn around and go a different way.
At other times, obstacles arise that are less clearly interpreted as obstacles. We might be trying to reach someone. They don’t answer their phone or email, they don’t respond to texts, they don’t appear on Facebook. For days they refuse to be available. We get angry, take it personally, look to blame or imagine the worst. But in reality, an obstacle has appeared, telling us that it is not the right time to make contact. We must pull back and wait patiently for a sign to show us differently.
The way I see it, when an obstacle appears, the universe is showing us that it has other plans for us. Do we waste our energy fighting back, or do we acquiesce and say, “Okay, where are you taking me? What am I supposed to learn?”
In my dream, every time I came to the big hill, I’d try like heck to get up it, even though I had already done it all night long and never succeeded. It didn’t matter, the hill was there and I was, of course, going to give it a shot. I accepted the challenge. By the end of my night of dreaming, however, I got the hang of it. By the umpteenth time I’d arrived at the hill, I was finally ready to accept the opposite challenge: to face that the hill was there for another reason altogether, that it was time to stop trying to transcend it and instead turn in a totally new direction.
Sometimes our challenges are posed by nature, at other times by our own pigheadedness, our inability to be flexible and flowing. We want things to go a certain way and by golly they had better go according to plan! It’s pretty hard to give up our dreams and our perfect scenarios to the possibility of disaster and defeat. If we are going to be in alignment with nature, with our lives as they naturally unfold, however, we must not only accept but face what our obstacles might be trying to tell us about ourselves.
We tend to want to blame, to point out how others have ruined things for us or disappointed us. But once we remove our outward projections, we might find that something really important is being placed in front of us, something we might not be able to fathom at the time. The universe might have other plans for us.
In my dream, I was presented with acquiescing to that which I could not control or override. In my real life, obstacles often reveal themselves in more subtle ways, but they are nonetheless clearly there, asking me to pause and reconsider. Am I just wasting my energy here for no reason? Am I pushing for something that is just not going to be good for me? If I get up that hill, is there something far more complicating and devastating awaiting me on the other side?
I have had several occurrences in my own life where, had I proceeded in the direction I was going in, disaster awaited. I have sidestepped death on more than one occasion. And so, I know how the universe seeks to get our attention, to alert us to danger, in subtle and not so subtle ways.
When we force something that is just not going our way, we may be getting ourselves into serious trouble. My dream was challenging me to take the obstacles seriously, but to be open and flowing as well, to learn acquiescence to the signs and synchronicities that arise in the natural course of life.
If we can avoid getting too wrapped up in self-doubt or self-recriminatinion, without going to blame or judgment, obstacles can be used to guide us forward. They offer us the opportunity to question our reality. What am I being shown here? Am I too controlling? Is my ego inflated? Have I lost my connection to my physical and emotional self? Is my illness, my failure, my loss or lack really leading me to my fulfillment, to something totally new and unexpectedly good, rather than the negative disaster I immediately interpret it as?
And, better still, as my dream points out: if we are truly in the Tao, in alignment with nature, with the synchronicities that arise in our lives, there are really no obstacles. Everything comes to us for a reason. Sometimes, it’s only in hindsight that we see this. Sometimes its only in hindsight that we are thankful for all the obstacles that have come into our lives to save us and project us forward into more fulfilling and adventurous lives.
Sometimes it’s just time to turn and go in a new direction!