“Your life, your decision: keep it straight and simple like a breadstick or take on the challenges of all its twists and turns and design your own pretzel.”
Who can deny the fact that human life offers us an unlimited amount of challenges, twists, turns, and hardships? Majority of us prefer instant solutions or quick-fix options whenever and wherever possible. At times we are fortunate but most of the time, our resourcefulness comes into question. This is where we find out that life was never meant to be a straight line like a breadstick.
No matter how much we wish to avoid twists, turns, heights, slopes, and/or challenges, they all have a way to come and interfere with our smooth-sailing lifestyle when we least expect. You must be wondering what logic did I use to come up with such a non-traditional subject matter for discussion in these forums. Please allow me to solve the riddle in as pleasant a way as humanly possible.
Please allow your memory to flex its reach a few years into the past and reminisce all the unexpected turns of events that imposed themselves upon you, whether you could take them into stride or not. You will have a very clear idea how straight your own life has been so far. If the pattern indicates all sorts of surprises, some pleasant but most others, not the same, you will know how tough it can get to use artistry and turn such upheavals into a nice looking pretzel that demands artistry and perfection.
Using the example of a breadstick for a less than challenging life and a pretzel for an artistic handling of the same for a positive outcome, I am trying to bring home the point of learning the art of skillful handling of unexpected surprises. It is up to us and no one else to live in the moment, keep total control of all our faculties in times of distress and take calculated decisions that avoid future regret/s.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – –Martin Luther King, Jr.
How skillfully we handle challenges and/or controversies is perhaps one of the most easily identifiable traits of our personality. More efficiently we stand up to the plate, higher the amount of recognition we earn. There are times when we are pushed to the limits, leaving us no exit or respite. At times like this, nothing but our analytical capacity can help us find the most appropriate solution and rescue us out of the mess. It might mean leaving a straight path and go through certain twists and turns, a few hoops, jumps, and whatever else it takes to save the situation from deteriorating any further.
Rev. Robert H. Schuller gave this valuable lesson: “Tough times don’t last, tough people, do. ” No wonder he practiced what he preached. Starting his ministry from an open-air theater, he went on to fulfill his dream of building the much-coveted ‘Crystal Cathedral’ in Orange County, Los Angeles. He devised a way to have the needs meet the ends, (like in a pretzel with no loose ends.) To raise the vast amount of money needed for this mega-project, he resorted to selling sponsorship of each window in the cathedral of his dreams. The end result was a beautiful cathedral with nothing but thousands of windows on its façade.
Could he have done it with a straight face? I’m sure you have your answer same as I do.
When looking at a straight line, there can hardly be a better example than a long stretch of road without any twists, turns, stop signs, crossings, not even a scenic view. One such road exists in Australia. Eyre Highway is an asphalted highway in Australia, with a length of 1,675 km (1041 mi), linking Western Australia and South Australia via the Nullarbor Plain. It includes what is said to be the longest straight stretch of road in the country: 146.6 kilometers (91.1 mi) without any turn. For much of its length, it can be described as a long and lonely road.
What do you get on such a straight stretch other than boredom, sluggishness, tired eyes and monotony? Wouldn’t you rather have a few interesting diversions, some twists, and turns, a few crossings, opportunities to stop by, relax and take in the surrounding beauty? At the same time, you would also need to be focused on your goal for fear of losing track or getting lost.
Life itself is very similar to a long road but it offers so many twists and turns that sometimes we lose track of our mission. Some of us get so overwhelmed that we start moving in the opposite direction. This is where a knowledgeable guide can make all the difference. Such a guide must be well-versed with the nuances, the topography, the obstacles, the choice of multiple exits towards more meaningful destinations.
We shall only seek advice from someone who has been there and done that. Listening to well-wishers may not always serve our purpose, no matter how noble their advice. One well-established fact surrounding well-wishers is that they always act on the side of caution. They want to make sure that we take the most convenient route for survival. The fine line between ‘survive’ and ‘thrive’ lies in our approach. Playing safe or taking risks with due diligence helps us determine the level of success we can aspire to.
History is a witness to the fact that the most successful individuals have all dared go against the beaten path. They have all chosen the road less traveled and made their mark. They did not accept the life of a breadstick. Their selection of the twists and turns as their way of living gave us innumerable inventions that make our life more comfortable. They made sure they connected all the loose ends to give us nice looking and artistically prepared pretzels out of the same dough.
In Part II, we shall be looking at some of those geniuses that managed to overcome challenges, lived through severe hardships, worked through adversity and trod the path of absolute uncertainty to come out winners. Today, they are known not just as inventors or revolutionaries, outstanding leaders or game-changers, instead, they created a legacy for all of us to cherish through years, decades and centuries. They wrote their names on the firmament in indelible ink, to last until perpetuity.
See you in Part II