The most persistent obstacles in your life are constructed of your own psychological substance. The answer is NOT “out there”. It rarely is, since the purpose of life is to be happy, and happiness depends on what you’re doing in your head and heart, not just external circumstances.
Let’s look at this notion, first in fiction, and then in life.
JURASSIC PARK. The problem is that “Life finds a way.” Hammond creates a park stocked with extinct creatures, designed to prevent them from escaping or reproducing. Ooops. Let’s ignore the stupidity of the park’s design (blow a fuse and the greatest predators in Earth’s history are munching on the guests) and look at the immediate cause of the disaster: human greed. Programmer Nedry compromises the security to gain access to the frozen embryos.
Life will not be contained–it used the tool of human greed to open the doors.
And then, as they say, the fun begins. The guests are in a mad scramble for survival, they discover that some of the dinosaurs are flipping genders so that they can create mating pairs and reproduce.
Again, life finds the way.
Ultimately trapped by the intelligent velociraptors, on the edge of being killed and eaten, the T-Rex arrives and asserts its primacy in the order of things. Velociraptor is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived approximately 75 to 71 million years ago during the later part of the Cretaceous Period. The T-Rex existed in the Maastrichtian age of the upper Cretaceous Period, 68 to 66 million years ago.
Get it? Humans and Dinosaurs were separated by sixty million years or so. But T-Rexes and Velocoraptors were ALSO separated, by about five million years. And if you mix them together, there will be a scramble for Dino domination. The T-Rex won. The natural order reasserted itself, and our human characters were able to scramble to safety.
T-Rex > Velociraptors > Humans, at least in this context.
Life found the way, and the basic obstacle (there is no way to control life) became the answer (how do we escape?). Get that?
You didn’t have to think about it: it FELT right. Imagine if Sam Neil and Laura Dern had found some super-weapon in the armory and blasted their way to the heli-pad. Would that have been a fraction as satisfying? Nope.
When I started my writing career, I had no direct role models, and my mother told me in no uncertain terms that I was placing my future at dire risk to travel that path. This triggered BOTH fear of success AND fear of failure. I had multiple occassions on which I did a fantastic job on my first assignment…and then blew it on my second. I was afraid of failure, so I brought my A-Game. But was also afraid of success (drawing too much attention) and so sabotaged my own efforts.
But the OBSTACLE was the SOLUTION, if I could look deeply enough. The obstacle was FEAR. It didn’t matter what the fear concerned–I was screwing myself over, and have plenty of examples of people who were programmed in childhood to have negative beliefs about relationships, money, or physicality and let that fear drive them all their lives, even after they are adults.
If FEAR stops me, controls me…but also drives me…it is like driving a sports car with its brakes on. What would I need to do to TAKE MY BRAKES OFF?
In other words, if there is a negative pattern of action or choices in your life, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Only you were there time after time.
The bad news is that if this is a pattern…you are the problem. But the good news is that that implies that you are also the greatest ally you could ever have.
I was given no simple answer to how to do this. But somewhere in the martial arts, yoga, meditation, NLP, shamanic work and more I got enough control to keep going NO MATTER WHAT. The “Ancient Child” may be the single greatest tool I’ve created in this sense, at least for me, because I’m a natural “daddy”–I’d do anything for my kids. So visualizing the “kid within” triggers that “fuck it, I’ll die trying!” urge that takes me though pain, and fear, and doubt.
And every time I do it, I gain a little perspective. There WAS no single answer. What there was was a clear vision of what I loved (the future I wanted) a clear understanding that giving up was NOT an option, and a willingness to take another step. And another. And another.
You can kill me, but you cannot stop me. Once you make that commitment, and have connected with that little kid inside you, and really grasp that no matter WHAT you do, you can’t “play small” enough to avoid dying…the rest is details.
But, as they say, the devil is in the details.