When an obstacle comes up people have different reactions. Some refuse to go any further; the obstacle blocks them totally. Some people try to remove the obstacle, chip at it and force it to move. Many try to find a way around it.
There are a lot of proverbs on this topic. “If God shuts a door He always opens a window.” I know a lot of people who would tell me quite plainly that this isn’t always the case. I prefer Burns’ view. “Two paths diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less traveled by.” In case you’re wondering I’m the “go around” type.
What are obstacles? There are two types of obstacles. Those we have no control over and those we have complete control over. We don’t have control over learning disorders. We don’t control the weather. These are things we have to face and deal with in one of the above applications.
We do control our actions. It’s very easy to find a road block for something we don’t want to do or are too afraid to try. As an example, we were on a trip. There was a pedestrian bridge to a botanical garden. If you’ve read any of my other articles you probably know they are something I enjoy immensely. Why is there a problem? I’m afraid of heights, I’m afraid of water and this was an opaque bridge over a river. That was my obstacle. Did I cross it? Yes, twice. I didn’t enjoy the bridge but I did enjoy the garden.
Why are obstacles important? Unless we sit down and give up, obstacles change us. They challenge us. They make us work to find out how to get over, under, around or through them. We come away from them with knowledge and that knowledge is valuable. We wouldn’t get far if we didn’t have to face obstacles.
How can we use them? Both types of obstacle are useful. People with learning challenges can learn. They need to be taught a little differently, but that does not in any way block learning. Finding out what it is and then finding a way around it will help both the person with the disability and the teachers who work with them better and stronger.
As for the bridge story, I gained two things. One of them is the knowledge and photographs from the botanical garden. The other is that I can make myself do something that is extremely scary to me. I can face my fears and not let them stop me. It’s a powerful feeling.
When do they come in handy? Again I will use myself as an example. We didn’t find out until I was an adult that I have some dyslexia. It comes out in two ways. I transpose numbers, which can be annoying. The other is in typing. I was horrible in typing class. The highest speed I hit was 31 wpm without subtracting the errors. As this was before computers as we know them that was pretty bad.
I could have let these problems stop me; especially the typing. However, as I’ve chosen to write I have to get around this barrier. It took time, patience and a lot of practice. It wasn’t easy. Now I can type around 100 wpm (well use the keyboard anyway). The obstacle not only got out of my way, it only appears now when I’m stressed and trying to write down phone numbers…
We need obstacles. A straight path down a known trail gets boring. Choosing to go the less traveled path will definitely bring you more obstacles…but the rewards are worth it.