Today’s fortune is a quote by the poet Lord George Gordon Byron. Adversity is the universal human experience of facing obstacles. Let’s face it; we all deal with some form of setbacks in life no matter what path we take. After reading the fortune, I put it aside and thought about the struggles in my life.
Last weekend I attempted backpacking in the Allegheny National Forest. For those that follow my adventures, you will recall that I am recovering from some torn ligaments in my knee—from my first and last attempt at skiing.
My orthopedic surgeon said I would heal over time. I worried that my little legs wouldn’t be as strong as before, so I followed all his instructions and went to physical therapy like an obedient patient. My doctor was extremely pleased with my progress but said that I should probably consider sports other than schlepping a heavy backpack through rough terrain.
I listened to his recommendation, assessed my extracurricular options, and quickly discarded his advice. Just like recovering from my injury, I took my doctor’s suggestion as a challenge, and I aimed to overcome it.
I was an outdoors-girl growing up. I filled my free time playing in the sand and dirt, building snow forts, and climbing trees. Although I probably won’t ski anymore, I can’t imagine not partaking in outdoor sports such as snowshoeing, hiking, and camping out in the middle of nowhere.
When faced with adversity, we shouldn’t look at it as a stop sign. We don’t come to a muddy puddle in the middle of a path and think, “Oh, darn. I guess I’ll turn around and go home.” No, we look for another route, walk around the puddle, or trudge right through it.
Whether we are learning something new, managing busy schedules, or struggling with our bodies, the challenges we face shouldn’t halt our progress. These difficulties are only detours in life that make us choose a different path and allow us to grow in the process.
The terrain on my hike was challenging for someone recovering from a knee injury, but I was able to find ways to get to my destinations. I took more time going up hills and assessed my footing going down. I realized that I started my hike stiff, but warmed up in a short time and was able to trek at a decent pace.
Most importantly, I let go of the anxiety of hurting myself once I realized my capabilities. The trepidation of dealing with adversity can be overwhelming. The “what-ifs” can be worse roadblocks than the original setback because ultimately, we fear change and the unknown. We need to accept that there are no improvements without modification, and there isn’t a map for every path.
Even if we don’t succeed in an attempt, we can revel in the knowledge that we tried. Each mistake teaches us something about ourselves. With a little fortitude, we can blaze trails in new directions towards our goals. Along the way, we can look back at the steps we’ve taken and enjoy the little accomplishments. Adversity isn’t just a path to truth. It’s that push we need to better ourselves.