All of us have hopes and dreams, but the process of making them a reality is not easy. On our journey towards our goals, we are likely to face various obstructions that block our path. Take the case of 15-year-old Regina Mayer. Her dream is to ride a horse, but her parents refused to get her one. Undaunted, the resourceful teen made do with riding a cow named Luna instead.
Riding a cow is certainly not surprising. But if you are like me, you probably never heard of people riding a cow like a horse to do jumps. I certainly had to see the remarkable video for myself. In the end, this incident is instructive. It shows that when we face obstruction to our plans, the best course of action is to find other options.
Regina and Luna the Cow
Yijing Hexagram 39: Obstruction
OBSTRUCTION. The southwest furthers.
The northeast does not further.
It furthers one to see the great man.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
The southwest is the region of retreat, the northeast that of advance. Here an individual is confronted by obstacles that cannot be overcome directly. In such a situation it is wise to pause in view of the danger and to retreat. However, this is merely a preparation for overcoming the obstructions. One must join forces with friends of like mind and put himself under the leadership of a man equal to the situation: then one will succeed in removing the obstacles. This requires the will to persevere just when one apparently must do something that leads away from his goal. This unswerving inner purpose brings good fortune in the end. An obstruction that lasts only for a time is useful for self-development. This is the value of adversity.
How to Deal with Obstructions
1. Know How and When to Retreat
When Regina’s parents forbade her to get a horse, she did not give up on her dream or despair. Realizing that she could not change her parents’ minds, she had no choice but to back off. Yet, she was not willing to sit around and do nothing about it. Instead, she trained her cow Luna to act like a horse.
Nothing that is worth it ever comes easy. The more important our goal is to us, the more likely obstacles will appear in our way. While we can overcome some of these obstructions, we may be powerless against others. In the face of such hindrances, the only thing we can do is to retreat. Retreat is not running away. It is an awareness of the times and having the wisdom to advance in another direction. If the direct route to our goal is blocked, the roundabout way might just get us there instead.
2. Consider Alternatives
When Regina’s parents refused to get her a horse, she faced an obstruction to her plans. Given her tender age and limited resources, there was little she could do but wait until she was older and had the means to reach her goal. This is what most people in her shoes might do. But instead of doing so, Regina displayed her resourcefulness by using what she had at hand. Because she lived on a farm with many cows, she decided to train Luna to act like a horse instead.
When we open our minds to the impossible, our options are endless. The difficult part is opening our minds. On the one hand, we may have a fixed idea of doing things, so it is hard to see other alternatives. In fact, we might be reluctant to deviate from our original plan. On the other hand, if we do not believe that something is possible, we will not attempt it. Because things rarely go as planned, we have to be adaptable to reach our goals. If our actions are not yielding the results we desire, the only option we have left is to change and try alternatives until we succeed.
3. Find Help
Training a cow to act like a horse is no easy feat. Apparently, “steering” a cow posed a problem even for the resourceful Regina. So what did she do? She sought help from an expert on cows. It turns out that riding a cow like a horse is not unheard of. Not only did cow expert Anne Wiltafsky resolve the “steering” issue, she also shared that young cows can jump really well. This is definitely the most interesting thing I heard all week.
Some obstructions may be beyond our ability to manage. When this is so, we should not be afraid to seek help. What may seem like a difficult task for us might be a piece of cake for someone else. If we can find such experts to guide or help us, we will be able to overcome our obstructions and reach our goals.
Regina has managed to train Luna so well that she acts like a horse now. Luna can also respond to commands like “go” “stand” and “gallop” if she feels like it. A cow is still a cow even if it has horse training. This does not mean that Regina has given up on her dream of riding a horse and settled for riding cows instead. She is merely biding her time and waiting for the day when she can ride a horse. But I am sure Luna will always have that special place in her heart.
The only way our dreams will become a reality is if we never give up. If a dream is worth fighting and dying for, we have to keep that flame alive until the very end. It means we have to keep on getting up every time life knocks us down. It means we have to keep on finding another way every time we run into an obstacle. Remember, life is not out to get us. The adversity we face is necessary for our growth so that we have the capacity to make our dreams a reality.
Obstructions are a part of change and life in general. Obstructions could happen because we need to change our actions to reach our goals. Or it could be because that the timing is simply not right for us to make our dreams a reality. Here, it could be that we lack the resources or the experience and wisdom to do so. In times of obstruction, the best thing to do is to find other ways and means of overcoming it instead of charging straight ahead.
What do you think of the story of Regina and Luna? How do you manage obstructions when they hinder you from reaching your goals? Do you charge straight ahead or find another way? Do you have other ways of dealing with obstructions? Do share your thoughts and comments below.
The I-Ching or Book of Changes Translated by Richard Wilhelm, Cary F. Baynes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997.