Saturday, June 23, 2018
Off the Shelf: The Obstacle is the Way
Some books, the pages just turn themselves. Other books...
Not that I mean to imply that reading Ryan Holiday's book is a chore. It's just that lately I've missed those opportunities best suited to reading a book. I need a transcontinental flight to get my reading done!
I've enjoyed so many details about reading The Obstacle is the Way—small details like how the book feels when I hold it in my hands. It's a comfortable book to hold and read, or carry to a favorite reading nook for enjoying in solitude.
The book has far more important virtues, though. Prime among them is the title, itself. In an age when it seems everyone is seeking a life free of difficulties, we are actually hampering our growth by hiding from challenges. The subtitle of the Ryan book reminds us of a better way: "the timeless art of turning trials into triumph." I need that.
Because the book is a collection of short chapters, it is just the right size for absorbing one major thought and then setting the book aside and reflecting on it. But not for too long—and that was my problem: I'd take too long to start up on the next chapter. I think that calls for a reread, which wouldn't hurt to do, anyhow.
I've already mentioned that I'm finding the book helpful for encouraging myself to tackle some projects that seem to be particularly challenging to me. They are things I'd like to accomplish, but can't seem to rev up the confidence to actually try. Beyond that chapter I already mentioned, though, is a section on the discipline of the will. Not a particularly choice topic, in my current opinion, but I need this. Hopefully it will whip me into shape so that I can take on more challenging projects. If nothing else, it will provide some thoughts to meditate on, encouraging my own mind to find a way to make these concepts my own.
Some people prefer fiction to nonfiction. Of those in the nonfiction camp, perhaps how-to books claim the biggest number of adherents. But I find those small books that fit in one's hand like a prayer book, and come with thoughts that are small enough to crawl around in one's mind until they find a suitable nesting place, are the best ones to mull over on a quiet afternoon.