Problems Offer a Choice
Either a Cul-de-sac or a Challenge

Last week was a great week in my online survey class and also for me personally. The previous article and this one discuss the insights that two students had during the discussions last week. My also having a great week related to still being alive. That essay discussed Ginger, my 80 lb. Irish Setter, jumping up on my lap during my Zoom chat with my family. Ginger wanted me to spend some one-on-one time together. So, she jumped up on my lap, resulting in both of us falling off my desk chair. I hit the floor first, but a nanosecond later, Ginger ended up on top of me.

In my previous essay, I mentioned that I love having a class where I can’t pronounce many of their names. Vatsal’s name is shorter than Rakhmatjon’s name. Nevertheless, I’m not sure that Vatsal would be impressed by my pronunciation of his name.

Vatsal intrigued me in his essay about how young Muhammad faced personal loss as a young child. His father died a couple of days before he was born. So, Muhammad never had a father, and his mother died when he was six. Vatsal was impressed by how Muhammad was able to face loss and suffering even as a small child.

In response to Vatsal’s comment, I agreed with him but pushed it one step further. Setbacks are always the basis for success. Dreaming about something isn’t the source of becoming successful. It is up to each of us to address problems that come our way. How Muhammad responded to problems was his doorway to success. He lost a lot at the beginning of his life and didn’t sit and pout. He learned an important lesson of life at a very young age and remembered it for the rest of his life.

I told Vatsal that I share a similar learning process with Muhammad. I faced problems and keep going. My two dances with death and moving to Mt. Lebanon were not happy times for me. Nevertheless, I have benefited far more from obstacles in life than good fortune. I’m 78 and still teaching because I am fully aware that my clock is ticking.

Now, Muhammad and I aren’t unique as we journeyed down our yellow brick roads of life. Everyone has a choice. One choice is to handle a problem as a cul-de-sac. You can sit, complain, blame others, and gripe about life being unfair. However, that mindset is counterintuitive. You won’t get anyplace in a cul-de-sac.

This is one of your options.

The other alternative is to see a problem as a challenge. You need to assess the situation and come up with a game plan. Hardly ever is that task easy, but it is a hell of a lot more productive than being mired in a cul-de-sac and getting nowhere.

Put your game plan into some action. Your game plan won’t be perfect. It will need changes along the way, but you are moving in the direction of addressing the problem.

This is your other option.