Gratitude Journal #6 - Obstacles as Opportunities

posted on: February 26, 2011

I wake up and post to facebook, the first thing that comes to my mind, as if a message from a dream:

"Lucky people see obstacles as opportunities"

At that VERY moment, the universe responded with a very silent and cunning, "Oh yeah? Let's test that theory," and then dumped a big pile of Murphy's Law on my day.

I get out to my car and my steering won't work. It's so frozen tight I can't even begin to move it. Obstacle #1- an opportunity to take Alex's car instead. I get in Alex's car and text that my car isn't working- he may need to take the shuttle today. I start driving his car and the brakes give out. Like, completely give out. I'm not even a quarter mile from home and I have to turn around in morning rush hour without brakes just to get the vehicle back home safely. I coast into our parking spot just barely not hitting the brick wall of the building. Obstacle #2- an opportunity to test the public transportation. I talk to the people who drive shuttles and see the city buses pass by all the time. They point me to the bus stop and I go to wait. Thankfully I have some cash on me that I'd taken out the night before so that I can pay for the bus. As I'm waiting for an unusually long time- I text the people I'm meeting in Boston and tell them my situation and that I'm going to be there as soon as I can, but I will definitely be late.

I finally see the bus, only it's driving on the other side of the street and it's not stopping. There are no bus signs in this neighborhood so there's no way for me to even know where the bus usually stops- which is why I asked a shuttle driver. The bus has passed me by and I can't afford to wait another 20+ minutes for it to come around again. Obstacle #3 - an opportunity to call a cab. I call a cab and they arrive within a few minutes to take me to the commuter rail station so I can train into Boston. I had only planned to spend $1 on the bus, and end up spending $9 on the cab. The cab pulls into the commuter rail station just as the train is pulling away- and I think... if I'd called the cab instead of waiting for the bus, I would have made the train- lesson learned. The next train leaves in an hour. I don't have enough money left to buy a round trip ticket, so I have to use the ATM and pay an extra fee for my commuter rail pass. At least there's a Dunkin Donuts in the station so I can eat breakfast after a crazy start to my morning. I order my regular Iced Latte and they tell me that they don't make lattes at this location. Obstacle #4 - an opportunity to try the iced coffee. The iced coffee isn't nearly as good, but it's all I'm going to get this morning as I tackle everything else life is throwing at me. At this point- the entire morning is a complete wash, but rather than give up, I keep moving forward toward the obligations and commitments I've made rather than give up in pitiful despair that my day has been ruined every step of the way. I'll spare you the rest of the details, but just know that the day did not get any better or easier.

Everything was an obstacle- like I was on the biggest friggin' obstacle course of my life.

While the obstacles certainly didn't feel like opportunities that day- the challenges I faced and pushed myself through actually became beneficial to me later on. I learned how to navigate the public transportation system into Boston and to the school I was visiting. I learned that buses in Boston aren't nearly as scary as buses in other cities with less public transportation. I learned that commuting by rail is much more pleasant than commuting by car. I learned that when you're lost in Boston on public transport, there's always someone willing to be gracious and help you out. I learned that I can use my iphone to help me navigate closer to my destination via bus. I learned that there was a subway stop closer to the theatres than I had realized. I learned that WiFi on the train allows me to have a productive commute into Boston. I learned that sometimes WiFi on the train isn't available and it's better just to sleep. I learned that riding public transportation makes life more interesting and has many more people watching opportunities. I learned that I need to bring my own water and not rely on others to have it in their water coolers. I learned that I can make better Iced Coffees at home and bring them with me. I learned that my husband is willing to go out of his way to make at least one of our cars work. I learned that I can survive the worst obstacle course I've ever been on and that cheese & wine with friends is the best way to end such a "lucky" day.  I learned that if you laugh at the ridiculous comedy of errors, your day goes a lot better than if you begrudge everything that went wrong.

While obstacles rarely ever feel like gifts or opportunities- they are put in our life to help us learn and grow in ways that we normally wouldn't without them- and that makes them a gift worth being grateful for. If we aren't grateful for an obstacle and the opportunity to work through it the first time, it will keep showing up in our life over and over until we learn to accept it as a lesson and spend time learning how to conquer it.

Success comes from picking ourselves up over and over and over again and never giving up on our journey.

{If you appreciated this post, please join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing your own gratitude journal and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

1 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Thanks for the reminder to stay positive and to make lemonade out of lemons!


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