Last night Akshara and I joined Offering, the kirtan group I have been playing with, in a lovely evening of chant. One of the songs we played was a chant to Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati, who is known as the remover of obstacles… and yet can sometimes put obstacles in our way!
As I was immersed into the words and energy of the chant, I started to reflect on the nature of obstacles. In general, obstacles are blockages in the way of what one is wanting to accomplish. They can show up in many forms in life, such as a physical detour, an illness, or not having the tools or resources we need to carry out a goal.
As a began to sit with the concept of obstacles, I noticed more deeply that seeming obstacles may only be appearing as such. Could it be possible that the obstacles in the way may not be this at all, yet may be perfectly aligning us with where life is taking us? This brings up the question whether we are we in control or if something else is. If we think we are in control, than yes, there may appear to be obstacles in the way of us creating the life we want. Yet if we are being lived by life itself, this changes the perspective of what obstacles really are. Obstacles in this sense would be just perfect, asking us to be open to something else occurring that we are not aware of yet. They may be leading us to something bigger than our imagination can perceive. Or they may be keeping us from doing something that will lead us in a different direction than what is supposed to be.
In this context, obstacles would be more like signs for a new direction, telling us to “wait for a new opportunity”. They are often seen as negative, but what if we let that idea go? What if life is perfectly aligned and perfectly orchestrated, leading us in each moment to unseen possibilities? If we are able to listen and trust that, we will be lead to what is the most harmonic opportunity. Thinking back on my life, I can see several “obstacles” that brought me to the perfect place at the perfect time. I would not consider them obstacles now as I look back, yet at the time they seemed to be and it felt like the universe was against me. But what if I had been more open to them as a supportive experience, bring me to where I needed to be?
One very big seeming obstacle brought me to meet Akshara, so I truly believe obstacles are as much a gift as when it appears as though things are going perfectly. I had left Maine with my husky, Skye, for California in 1994, looking for a new direction in life and a path of healing. During the road trip and when I finally got to California, I hit one obstacle after another. After about a week of everything going wrong in California, I turned my car around and headed east. I pitched my tent in Nederland, Colorado to relax and to think. It felt peaceful there and I hadn’t felt that for several days. The next morning Akshara came over to talk to me; curious what a woman with Maine plates was doing in Colorado. He had arrived from Tennessee several days before, but had been visiting family in Denver and had just returned to the campground that morning. I was considering packing up and finding another campground that day, feeling the movement of travel and anxiety, so we had a very small window of time to meet. His welcoming spirit made me feel at home and I decided to stay for a while. Sixteen years later I am so grateful for the leaky radiator in St. Louis that delayed my trip for a week, the man at the Big Sur campground that was terrifying me by leaving notes on my picnic table and the Boulder Youth Hostile that didn’t allow dogs and suggested I try camping in Nederland.
Obstacles are gifts to bring us to where we are destined to be. And for that, I am grateful.