running · special needs parenting · Uncategorized · writing

Obstacles vs. Barriers

Before I get into this, let me throw out definitions, just to ensure that we’re all on the same page.

ob·sta·cle
ˈäbstək(ə)l/
noun
  1. a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress.
bar·ri·er
ˈberēər/
noun
  1. a fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access.

An obstacle hinders of prevents progress, a barrier simply prevents.  Let me suggest that there are very few real barriers in life, rather, there are many obstacles and choices that go with them.

For example, I had returned to college as a working adult to complete my bachelor’s degree.  I got pregnant.  Pregnancy was an obstcle to completeing my degree, but I chose to stop attending school because for me personally, working, parenting, and going to school was too much.  Another person could have made an entirely different choice and still have been right, just like I made the right choice.  But let me be clear, pregnancy was not a barrier, it did not prevent me from completing my degree, it just made the path trickier.

But I find that there are very few real barriers in life, very few things which actually prevent a person from doing something that is truly a priorty for them.  I fall into this camp:

I am reluctant to consider a closed door a barrier.

Yet many people would follow this path:

Image result for when god closes a door memes

(except shouldn’t they just accept it instead of excepting it?  Or is this to suggest that you omit it, I guess that works, but still, c’mon man).

Let me give an example.  In the movie, “The Lion King”, Simba watches his father die, and considers this a “closed door”.  He goes off, finds new friends, and lives a “Hakuna Matata” life, which is great.  But when he finds out that he’s needed in his old community, he reexamines the situation, and decides to bang down that closed door.  While his life with Timon and Pumbaa is cute and fun, you simply don’t have a hero until Simba decides that his closed door is just an obstacle, and obstacles can be overcome.

The formula applies in every story that has ever held conflict in which a character becomes a hero.  While I admit that stories are fiction, the same applies in real life.  Imagine if Walt Disney had taken his his failures as closed doors and decided to become a used car salesman.  Or Stephen King?  (A personal favorite of mine).  Or JK Rowling?  The list goes on.

I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m not taking that closed door as a sign that I should just move on.  I am a person with discernment and will, and as such, with each closed door, I will decide how to proceed.  This doesn’t mean that I won’t walk away from some closed doors, but it does mean that I will never assume a closed door is not meant to be opened, beaten down, or otherwise circumvented.

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