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The hurdle is not meant to stop you

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Obstacle races. Who invented them? As if running alone is not difficult, they decided to put hurdles for the runner to jump. Those hurdles are a dexterity exam, bringing down mighty runners who would otherwise win.

They seem to favour those whose kindergarten teachers wrote “has developed his fine motor skills’ because the mind needs to calculate the type of obstacle and how to physically overcome it, at just the right moment. A second early or a second late and down you go.

As if that was not bad enough, hurdles have a way of making you look inelegant. There’s just no cute way to be brought down by a hurdle.

Not with legs and arms flailing as you try to break your fall. It takes physical and mental strength to pick yourself up and continue with your race after failing at the hurdles.

Life is like that, a hurdle race and not a 100 meter dash. The sooner we make peace with the fact that we are all in an obstacle race, the better. It does not matter your race, religion or financial position.

If anything, those who are born into difficult backgrounds sometimes have an advantage over those born with a silver spoon. They don’t expect life to be easy and they are somewhat accustomed to dealing with setbacks.

Yet at some point or other, we all come face to face with our hurdles. Career hurdles, relationship challenges, strangling debt, tempting addictions and health conditions.

We have a choice, to be stopped by the hurdle or to summon all our strength, make our calculations, go over the obstacle and continue our race. Even if the hurdle brings us down initially.

The hurdle was never meant to stop us. It was put there to test us, to help us develop resilience and create better coping strategies. It was meant to make us more innovative. It was sent to reveal just what we are made of. It was to reintroduce us to capabilities we had long since forgotten we possessed.

During my hiking sojourns, I became familiar with the concept of ‘the wall’. This was usually encountered after a gruelling hike when one came across an obstacle that suddenly seemed insurmountable.

With energy levels sagging and low motivation, some hikers turned back, believing they couldn’t overcome the obstacle. An invisible wall stood between them and the other side, with no apparent way forward. At least not immediately.

During those hikes, my personal walls taught me that there was always a way. Sometimes you crawled through the mud, climbed over on all fours or slithered under the obstacle like a snake. Occasionally, you needed to retrace your steps and find another path.

The hurdle was meant to develop your fighting spirit. It is said that it is not the size of the dog that counts but the size of fight in the dog. The strategy is not to be taken out by hurdles we can overcome. Or to be taken out before our time.

The day may come, hopefully in the distant future, when like a soldier in a battle he knows he will not win, we face our last hurdle. May the strength and grace, love and joy we have built over our lifetime, carry us over one more time.



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