It can be tempting to want to drop out of life when we feel stuck. To blame our discontent on our circumstances: the opportunities that slipped through our fingertips, the friends who betrayed us, the business ventures we were never able to get off the ground.
We tell ourselves that once we have more time, or more money, or more energy, or better health — then we will be unstoppable. As soon as we figure out how to shake the limitations, break free of the restrictions, clear all the hurdles — then our lives will begin.
The problem, of course, is that if it weren’t for the hurdles, we’d never even know we could jump.
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin— real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
— Alfred D. Souza
Truth is, it’s often when we are the most free, the most available, with the most options in front of us, that we also tend to feel the most stuck: We’re shown a blank page and suddenly we get writer’s block; we’re given an entire day to ourselves and spend most of it struggling to decide what to do; we receive a financial windfall from an unexpected source and end up torturing ourselves over how to spend it.
We need the limitations.
In fact, it’s often our restrictions, not our freedoms, that most challenge us to get creative and think outside the box. It’s the constraints that push us past the limits of what we previously thought possible. It’s the stumbling blocks that provoke us and irritate us and otherwise antagonize us into getting up off the couch and finally creating something that wasn’t there before.
It’s the feeling of not having enough that sparks our desire to create more of what we need. It’s the feeling of not being enough that forces us to confront our ideas of who we are and what we’re being called to do. And usually, it’s only once we finally get tired of our own hemming and hawing that we are able to make the difficult but necessary choice to stop waiting for the life we want and instead, start creating it.
So what does this mean for you? And what does this mean for me? And what does this mean for all of the world’s weary travelers who are just so darn tired of pushing against their circumstances in an effort to change them?
I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not the circumstances that need changing, after all.
Maybe it’s us.
Maybe we actually need the tight budgets. The compressed timelines. The loss. The grief. The chronic conditions we may never overcome or understand. Maybe we need the writing prompts, the challenging relationships, the rigid schedules, the bureaucratic red tape — maybe we need all of it.
For the simple reason that every limitation we encounter also happens to be an invitation to grow.