Hello Family and Friends,
As many of you know, every month I write a letter to you all on something that has been on my mind. It’s my pseudo therapy/ way to stay connected to you. I’ve picked a theme for 2016 (Be like water- fluid, reflective, and always tending towards stillness) and I will reflect on that for the rest of year through these letters.
Today’s letter is about being fluid when approaching problems in life.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Cassandra and I went hiking in San Ramon. Las Trampas Regional Wilderness is one of the most beautiful trails I have ever hiked on. Think of rolling green hills with occasional cows and farm houses. The verdure continuously rolls on and on and on until it turns into beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds.
Cassandra and I were part of a larger group of of hikers. We arrived a little later than everyone else, but we were passing other people in the group like we were on a mission. We were going at a really steady pace until a herd of cows got in the way.
Imagine 10 people waiting for 3 momma cows and 3 baby cows to finish feeding. We are on a narrow road. To the left is a downhill mess of shrubs possibly with poison oak and poisonous critters. To the right- a cliff.
After 30 minutes of the group trying to figure out how to get around the cows, I realized this is the way people approach problems.
- Some people become paralyzed by their problems. Before Cassandra and I were unexpectedly stopped by cows, there had been other people in the group just waiting for the cows to move. The saying goes, “when nothing works, do nothing”. And nothing they did. Not doing something when you are unsure of how to conquer your problems sometimes is the best thing to do. A good plan is often necessary instead of being cavalier in facing tough problems. The danger in waiting is that it can be an indefinite abide in the long abyss of doing nothing. Even worse, some people will accept that the problem is no longer a problem and just an element of life.
- Some people try to minimize the problem. Some people in the group decided it would be best to blow whistles, make noise, and wave our arms in the air. Yes, it sounds stupid now. We thought we would scare the cows out of our way.
- Some people try to go back. One person suggested that we go back the opposite way. Go back 3.5 miles up and down rolling hills? Nope, not happening. Who is to say there weren’t more cows blocking the path in the opposite direction? Going back is not always possible or sagacious. People often forget the enormity of the challenges they faced in the past because all of the emotion and drama surrounding those problems has faded. They don’t realize the strength they gained from overcoming those problems has made them stronger, smarter, wiser now.
- Some people refuse to acknowledge the problem. One person thought he could go through the herd of cows and act like they aren’t really a problem. Clearly he lacked the same acumen that the rest of the group had. He changed his mind real quick when one cow gave him the death stare when he got a little too close. We all know someone (none of you who I’m emailing of course) who has blatant issues in their life and refuse to acknowledge it. They continuously go through drama, trifling people, lack of discipline, carelessness, or whatever you can think of that causes strife; and, they don’t acknowledge the deficit it causes in their life.
- Some people try to take a chance at an unbeaten path. While the rest of of the group was trying to figure out what to do, Cassandra was in the bushes and shrubs trying to find an alternative route. I wouldn’t have done that, but I figured that I probably would have had to follow her because she was my ride back home. She ended up climbing this ledge past the cows. We all followed like little ducklings behind their momma to freedom. Sometimes you have to be brave and do something out of character. More importantly, you have to be secure enough to accept the consequences if it doesn’t always work out the way you planned. Quit your job and become a freelancer. Start the company you have dreamed about. Adopt kids. Dye your hair blue and get the eyebrow piercing you always wanted. Yes there are risk, but the reward is that you dared to live life on your earn terms.
- Some problems are not meant to be solved alone. We all had some ideas on how to get past the cows; some were better than others… and 1 worked out to be the best solution. I personally don’t believe that any approach to the cows of life is wrong. Sometimes you have the answer, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you are the solution to another person’s problem.
- Sometimes you are the problem- not the cows. Now, those cows were minding their own business, in their own home, not bothering anybody. We intruded on them. Sometimes we have to change our perspective on the problem and figure out our own role in the problem. The Universe is not out to get you; however, you may be self-sabotaging your situation and not even know it. Take a moment and be reflective like water.