During one of my college years, I lived off campus and drove to the city every day to attend classes. The only way into the city required crossing one of two bridges, both of which had steep tolls – at least from the perspective of a financially struggling college student.
The toll booths would inevitably cause anxiety-inducing traffic backups, particularly on exam days. I wasn’t smart enough to envision a future like E-ZPass, but I certainly had the sense that there’s got to be a better way to manage toll collection.
For me, the traffic jams and toll payments were major blockages to my youthful sense of peace. If both could be done away with, life would be much better.
But would it really?
Most of us would say that we’d prefer not to have any adversity in our life. Or, at least a substantial lessening of our existing troubles.
But there’s another way of looking at adversity – one that completely changes our worldview.
If I wanted to attend that particular university and drive to campus, then paying a toll and sitting in traffic were steps toward achieving my goal of graduating. Just like studying for exams or writing term papers. Each time I did any of those, I was one step closer toward realizing my dream.
The toll booth wasn’t a “necessary evil” to be blasphemed each morning, it was simply part of my path – literally and figuratively.
When we can look at adversity like a toll booth, it takes on a completely different perspective. Instead of wishing adversities away, we can embrace each as an opportunity to get one step closer toward our ideal state.
But doesn’t adversity take us away from our dreams, not toward them?
It all depends on how we view them.
From the perspective of the ego where we think we know the best path for us (and others), we will always view adversity as a negative obstruction. But when we can step out of the ego and into our true selves, then adversity becomes the fast-path for growth.
Think of the E-ZPass express lane.
When we are with our ego, we are like those drivers without E-ZPass stuck in traffic waiting to get through the toll. But when we switch from the ego mind into our true nature, we are like E-ZPass holders who fly through the toll with no pain and get to the destination much faster.
When we can view adversity as an opportunity to reach out destination faster, it’s no longer even seen as an adversity. Rather, it’s a welcome “express lane” with no traffic.
We will all arrive at the destination, eventually. One way (ego) is fraught with pain and frustration. The other (true self) with joy and peace – with each “adversity” instantly transformed into a valued opportunity. The choice of which perception we experience is completely up to us.
Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of adversity and how we can shift our mindset for peace. I look forward to seeing you then.