Guess what?
When it comes right down to it,
wherever you go, there you are.
Whatever you wind up doing,
that’s what you’ve wound up doing.
Whatever you are thinking right now,
that’s what’s on your mind.
Whatever has happened to you,
it has already happened.
The important question is,
how are you going to handle it?
In other words,
“Now what?”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

On Easter Sunday, my oldest son and I stepped out for a little exercise in the neighborhood. We walked some, and we ran some. When we were a block away from home, we came upon an obstacle course created with chalk on the sidewalk.

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Now, when coming upon an obstacle course on the sidewalk, one is faced with a decision. One can dismiss the joyous work of the neighborhood kids and ignore the chalk lines with apathetic abandon. Or one can take a deep breath, muster up the courage, smile, and step into the challenge. We chose to step into the challenge.

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Of course, an obstacle course is a good metaphor for life, right?

You’re on a leisurely walk, not a care in the world, when suddenly, you’re faced with a challenge–or maybe a series of challenges. The obstacles of life can be slight inconveniences, or they can be monumental disturbances. You see the difficulty starting, and you’re not quite sure where the journey will lead.  And maybe you don’t have the luxury of avoiding the path ahead.  At times, the nature of the challenge is that you simply have to take a deep breath, muster up the courage, and step into the obstacle course.

Sometimes, the path careens dangerously and anxiously close to the edge before a last-minute course correction, and you have to pay attention to the zigs and zags of life with meticulous care.

Sometimes, the path is a series of dizzying spins, and you can’t see so clearly, and you step here, and you step there, and you step entirely off the path, and when you finally stop, the world keeps spinning, and everything’s a blur, and you might topple over, and you feel a little sick, and you’re not really sure where you are.

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Occasionally, you have to run fast…

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…and jump.

And at times, you’re not stepping forward at all but moving in reverse without seeing where you’ll end up.

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And then you misread situations altogether and make the wrong move or aren’t quite sure what to do. (My son and I wondered what in the world a “leg jump” could be.  Only later, we realized it said “1 leg jump.” Stopping and paying closer attention would have helped us understand the obstacle better.)

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And you only hope to step across a finish line–any finish line.

Does life ever feel like an obstacle course to you?

If it does, keep walking. Stay on the journey. You can reach a finish line. It helps to ask a friend to come along for the walk. It helps to rest when you can. It helps to pay careful attention to just the next step.  It helps to stop when the next obstacle seems more confusing than the last. Stop, breath deeply, take a long look, get in touch with that spiritual Center of peace, and then walk forward with gentleness and care.

And when you feel just a small lull in the middle of the anxiety, smile and realize you’ve made it part of the way already, and you’ll make it the rest of the way in time. The path may be difficult. You may be battered and worn along the way. You may fall–possibly more than once. And you may even be a different person by the time you make it through, but you can make it across a finish line.

 

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