“You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.” — Miyamoto Musashi
Everybody has heard the metaphor that people use to describe how life is full of problems that you need to conquer; usually something along the lines of “Push to the top” or “Keep climbing.” Obviously these metaphors hold some value because people repeat them on their way to success, but just as many people forget that there’s more than one path to the top of any mountain.
Our problems in our day to day lives can appear bigger and stronger than us sometimes. Probably most of the time now that I think about it. Many end up faced against a problem that they’ll think they just can’t move over, around, or through. Honestly, it’s life draining. That problem becomes so huge that it’s all they can think about, and their life revolves around it to the point that it’s entirely consumed.
During these times it’s important to remember that there’s always more than one approach to solving problems. If one way doesn’t work, you pivot and try again. Keeping the current theme of martial arts going, we see opponents testing each other’s reaction time and formulating a plan to break through their defense before moving. We really see the difference when we compare an amateur to a professional — an amateur will throw out random moves they’ve learned in hopes that one might work, while a professional will make space while they think about which technique to use with precision.
Keeping this in mind, we can apply it to our every day life. If our current plan of action isn’t working, then trying to push through it with brute force won’t work. Instead, we need to take a step back and view the problem objectively and without emotion. Then and only then will we be able to come up with an appropriate plan that outmaneuvers our problems.
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One thought on “Finding a Work-Around”
Thank you, Chris. Our lives may not be grand enough to see the other paths and therefore our troubles do become all-encompassing. Sometimes we feel like Sisyphus always rolling the boulder up that mountain. I saw a cartoon the other day that was captioned “Sisyphus meets Indiana Jones”.
Indy had the giant boulder rolling downhill after him. In the movie, Indy could not escape that boulder until they emerged and he could leap aside. Sisyphus, perhaps, could turn and spiral uphill until he reached the top, but his view is blocked by that boulder, his concentration is on that boulder.
So how does one both concentrate on a problem and see different ways to move it? I think we need to prepare the ideas and practices ahead of time. Not so much perseverating on all the possible challenges we might face, but building a tool chest of strategies.
I used to tell my students that we don’t want any surprises on test day. We build endurance and resilience in baby steps along the way. Life has many more variables than the SAT exam. So, how do we prepare for life?