I’ve been working my way slowly through Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way. It’s pretty good. I loved Stillness is the Key. Hill’s favorite from that series is Discipline is Destiny.

One quote I did like:

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” 

A few weeks ago we were at some friend’s house for dinner. It didn’t take Jack long to find the sandbox, and he was in heaven. He played there all night long.

Later that week in our back yard, Jack said to me, “Dad, can we get the workers to build one of those boxes for a sandbox?” Unfortunately he was referring to our “garden” boxes that have produced some of the greatest crops of weeds over the past few years. In fact, in the six years we’ve had them, we’ve had one year of tomato plants. I look at those boxes every day with dread. The dread of having to pick the weeds and the effort needed to plant a garden.

Where I saw nothing but heartache and sorrow, Jack saw his greatest dreams coming true – his own sandbox. 

I told him I would contact “the workers” (of course I was referring to myself), and see what we could do. Within a few days I had dug out all the weeds and filled the box with sand.

With meaning and purpose, I was able to put forth the effort to create something that all the kids have enjoyed playing in. I don’t think a day has passed that they haven’t played out there.

Jack couldn’t have been more proud of himself. He repeatedly told his brother and sisters whose idea it was to build the sandbox.

I’ve thought a lot about this interaction with Jack. Almost instantly he changed this source of pain into a source of joy.  With a little nudge from a five year-old, I was able to fix a problem that has vexed me for years. Jack helped me to consider a different approach, an option that I’d never considered. Where I saw only problems, he saw opportunities. I’ve got ideas for the other two boxes (which are still full of weeds)!!!!

I thought how applicable this is to life. Often we have a problem that we never fix because we can’t find a solution. Could we take a step back and find a different approach? Maybe one offered by a five year-old?

  • Whit
    11 months ago
    “With meaning and purpose, I was able to put forth the effort to create something…”. Just this simple sentence is beautiful!! I love it!
    • Nate
      10 months ago
      Thanks Whit!
  • Stu
    11 months ago
    I loved this one. I wish I stepped back more often to think outside (or about the inside of) the box!