A Return To a Familiar
I was laying in my childhood bed at my parents’ place the other night when I picked up The Obstacle is the Way and began reading it. It was the middle of the night and I was unable to sleep, plagued with the feeling that too many pieces of my life had spun out of control and took a turn for the chaotic.
For someone who rarely deals with anxiety, it has become an all too familiar force in my life recently, which is why I’ve spent the last three days at my parents’. I find comfort in the familiar, and so I always retreat to them and my old room when I need to find my footing, get back on even ground. My parents have a way of allowing me to sulk when I need to, but also telling me to get off my ass when they see I’m ready to.
Once in my childhood home, I turn to books. As an introvert, I tend to isolate myself and shut out the outside world, which requires effort and willingness, both of which feel depleted when things are tough. Hiding in my thoughts, overthinking, is common. Perhaps this is why books have always given me an avenue to focus, re-direct or embrace my thoughts.
To me, every solution to a possible life dilemma can be found in a book’s chapter, or in the act of reading itself. That is, the act of reading texts that push us by requiring us to accept that which we don’t immediately understand, and surrender our minds to the unknown.
As I began reading the second page, a quote from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius stood out to me, and went on to serve as the prompt for this post. The quote was, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
First, I thought about it for 15 minutes or so, and then the need to write overcame me and these words poured out of me. Interestingly, this is more than I can say for the entirety of the past month, wherein stringing along two words has been a challenge.
I read Aurelius’ Meditations in my second year philosophy class. Our professor was exceptional. I even remember him going over this exact part of the text. Though, then, the text had no meaning to me, and so the magnitude of the words didn’t quite resonate in the way they do now.
What I wouldn’t give to go back to that professor’s lectures at this point in my life. Similarly, this reminds me of how I once could not wait to leave my parents’ to be on my own, and yet now cherish and find so much comfort in the times that I spend with them.
After this book, I look forward to re-reading Meditations, and the chain of thought it provokes within me. After all, I've always enjoyed philosophy and especially debating ancient texts in my intro class. Who knew I was going to turn to the same texts for real life lessons? They once felt purely like parables of ancient times, yet, today, they feel like they were written last year, not last millennium.
Perhaps in moments of discomfort, we need to return to the familiar. Perhaps we need to feel the uncertainty and listen to the anxiety, rather than force ourselves to snap out of it. Perhaps sometimes we just need to feel what is meant to be felt. And perhaps only then can we regroup, find our footing, and move forward with whatever the obstacle is at hand.