As I drove, I passed several cars pulled off on the side of the road. It was so dark that it was hard to see already, and the snowflakes continually pattering down on my windshield made it much worse. Every minute the steering wheel would start to jerk out of my control, as my car slid around on the icy roads.
Thank God, I thought to myself, as I finally parked my car outside of my house, overjoyed to have made it home safely. It was almost pitch black out; the only light came from the stars and the moon in the empty sky. Here’s the embarrassing part. The driveway was completely covered in snow, and I neglected to consider that there was black ice underneath.
Big Mistake! Suddenly I lost my balance, and before I even had time to think about it, my feet went out from under me and I crashed down onto my back so hard it knocked the wind right out of me.
Cold, wet, and miserable, I got back up as soon as I could, grateful none of the neighbors saw. This whole series of events got me thinking about just how short life is, and how anything can happen even when you don’t expect it to.
I know that some of you may be wondering why driving home in a snowstorm and then falling on my back lead me to this kind of existential pondering. Hopefully it will make more sense after I tell you about the job I used to do years ago.
I used to work as a patient care assistant at an elderly care home. Yes, I did lead my fair share of Bingo games, but the job was much more hands-on than just this. My main duties were helping people with day-to-day tasks that they were unable to do by themselves like dressing, showering, and feeding.
I met many incredible people who I’ll never forget; people I was very close to. Sadly, I also knew many who passed away while I worked there, and many more who have passed since I left. The fall that left me only moderately uncomfortable could have lead to a broken leg, hip, or worse for someone at the home.
My experiences there have helped me appreciate my own life much more, and what I want to do with it. It occurred to me tonight that it’s really tragic that many people never get to live the way they really want to live.
How many people do you know who used to have big dreams about what they wanted to do with their lives? Maybe some wanted to be doctors, or mayors, or lawyers, or teachers, or something else.
Out of all of the people you’ve ever known who had some kind of big goal, how many of them actually accomplished what they set out to achieve?
My guess is probably very few of them. Worse still is that many of them are most likely no longer even working towards the goal they once set. Do you have a big goal that you’re either working towards, or have always wanted to accomplish, but haven’t yet?
I’m going to tell you one of the main reasons why I think most people never make it to where they set out to go: they don’t realize that problems are a normal part of achieving big goals. What I mean by this is that accomplishing anything worthwhile is NEVER easy, and that there are bound to always be some (or many) setbacks and problems that come up along the way.
Some run into these problems, but don’t realize that going through them is a natural part of obtaining some greater end. Consider this quote from Carl Jung from page 103 of Modern Man In Search Of A Soul:
“The meaning and design of a problem seem not to lie in its solution, but in our working at it incessantly. This alone preserves us from stultification and petrifaction.”
Now if you don’t know off the top of your head what stultification or petrifaction mean (I didn’t at first), you can think of them as basically meaning losing your drive or becoming paralyzed. In essence, Jung is saying that it’s not the solutions to the problems that help us grow, but the process of trying to solve them, which expands our awareness.
What problems are you facing in your life right now? I’m going to share with you right now the main problem going on in mine.
My dream for many, many years now has been to become a dentist, and I applied to dental school last summer. Unfortunately, I recently got the news that I’ve been rejected from my top choice for next fall. I don’t wish to disclose the name of the school, but let’s just say it’s a school where many top students with 4.0 GPAs and near perfect entrance exam scores often don’t even get into because it’s so competitive.
My dilemma is deciding whether I should accept an offer from a different dental school I think I'd like (but isn't the school I've had my heart set on for years), or work on improving my application by doing a masters program or something similar first, and then re-applying to my first choice in the future.
While I really wish I didn’t have to make this decision, and while I wish the solution was obvious, I know that the process of deciding what’s best for me and my future will teach me a lot in the long run.
As you encounter problems on the way to achieving your goal, I strongly encourage you to try to view them as nothing more than temporary speed bumps there for you to learn from on your way to becoming whatever you want to be.
Trust me, I know firsthand how frustrating and difficult it can be to think about problems this way because I am working on a big one right now myself.
However, life really is short.
Do you want to come to the end of the line only to wish you had gone after your dreams and refused to fold when the going got tough?
Or do you want to look back someday with passion feeling content, knowing that you accomplished something worthwhile despite the obstacles thrown in your path?
This is a decision only you can make…
We are here for you, and we really do want to see you achieve all of your goals! If your goal is to pass the GED test, we’ve got materials that can help you get there faster!
If you’re a college student and your dream is to get straight As, gain acceptance into grad school, or something else, whatever it is, we can help you get there too!
Never give up on yourself or your goals, and always remember to treat all obstacles that come up along your way to the finish as nothing more than learning experiences, no matter how hard the going gets!
Life’s too short to not get to live the way you want to live!
Photo by Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States (Loppet Snowstorm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons