Meditations Book 5 by Marcus Aurelius, a reflection.
“The mind adapts and turns around any obstacle to action to serve its objective: a hindrance to a given work is turned to its furtherance, an obstacle in a given path becomes an advance.”Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.20
Hi! This story is about letting life’s obstacle find your place in this world by turning it into an opportunity. This story changed my life. This can change your life too.
I came from a less-privileged family that hardly made both ends meet. I knew that only through education and a well-paying job were my only ways to get out of it. I believed that’s what I wanted and needed to do. And I would do everything to get it done.
So, as soon as I finished my academic requirements, I submitted my CV to companies that were open for an apprenticeship. While waiting for a return call, I kept searching for other companies that I had not submitted my CV yet. I thought that the more companies I sent my applications to, the higher the chance that I would get a return call.
My days of waiting turned into weeks of waiting. And my weeks of waiting turned into months of waiting. I tried to follow-up on my applications but I received no response. I waited and waited and waited but nobody called me.
My determination dulled. I was in this difficult life situation again. My life had no direction again. I had no desire to do anything again.
I felt that life was always against me. Whenever I do something good for myself, life always put obstacles in my way.
turning an Obstacle into an opportunity
While my father was drinking with my uncles during a family-related occasion, I heard an upsetting comment about me. One of my uncles said aloud that I would never get hired because I was myopic and I had no future.
Instead of giving him a menacing stare, I clenched my hands into a fist, controlled my breathing, and calmed myself down.
I needed to think clearly. I was thinking maybe he was right… or maybe not… or maybe I needed to read between the lines.
I was torn between what I thought of myself and what he thought of me. He saw me as a failure. I saw myself as someone who wanted to do something better for myself. And that’s no match to being a failure. I got it, we had a differing perception.
I took his criticism as another obstacle to overcome. If I would submit to what he thought, he would be right that I had no future. But since I knew why I wanted what I wanted, no obstacle could get in my way.
My determination was revived as if it was refueled. I continued looking for companies. But this time, I had more reasons to find a place where I belong.
After three years, we met again. He asked how I was. I looked at him straight in the eyes and said, ‘I will join my next vessel next week. And I will join as an Engineer.’
Despite my myopic-ness, he knew I had found a place for myself in this complicated world.
People will say you are never good enough and that you will never amount to anything. It is up to you on how you will take them. Submit to their criticism or do not get distracted and just continue straight ahead.
When people say you are not good enough, they are maybe right or maybe wrong. But keep in mind that it is your sole responsibility to improve your skills, knowledge, and your whole being until you are good enough.
When they say it is impossible that you will amount to anything, they are maybe right or maybe wrong. There are impossible things that humans cannot do. But there are also possible things humans can do. So focus on the things that are within your possibilities.
Marcus Aurelius is right that the mind can adapt and turn around any obstacle to action.
When you face an obstacle, it does not always mean that it is stopping you from becoming whoever you want to be. Similarly, it does not always mean that you cannot do anything about it. If you know why you want what you want, no obstacle can get in your way.
Remember, you are the only one who has the power to turn your obstacle into an opportunity. By doing so, you are letting your obstacle find your place in this world.
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1. The Meditations By Marcus Aurelius.
2. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.
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The goal of my book series is the same goal I have expressed in Why Do I Write.
My 2020 goal is to read a book per month; share with people what I learn from and feel about the book. For July 2020, the book I read is the Meditations By Marcus Aurelius.
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