Last week, the Photographer and his truck were hit by a guy running a red light at a busy intersection. Thankfully, he is fine; no one was physically hurt. Wish I could say the same for the truck, of course.
At the time, he was on his way to a school to arrange to begin a two-year program of study he has wanted to do for years. Circumstances conspired, and this was clearly the right time. So he headed off to complete the paperwork, arrange the financial aid. Needless to say, this collision delayed things a bit. Suddenly it was more urgent to call insurance companies, arrange day-to-day transportation and estimate costs than plan for school.
In his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes how, when the hero gets to the edge of the known world, s/he encounters a gatekeeper, who attempts to block the way. He cites an example in a description of one man’s dream. He wanted to enter a garden. There was a woman he knew inside. She reached out her hand to him, but a watchman came and led him away, saying, “Do be sensible… you know you mustn’t to that.” This is the refrain of gatekeepers everywhere: You know you mustn’t do that. It isn’t sensible. It is not safe to go outside (or inside) these walls.
Just after reading Campbell’s book years ago, I heard Jean Houston speak, and she expanded on this idea. When you don’t make it past the gatekeeper, you become the gatekeeper for someone else. Michael Meade talks about those friends we have who are always critical of our ideas. He advises making good use of them: When you have an idea for something new to try, call such a friend to see what he thinks. If he says it’s a dumb idea, you’re on the right track! Randy Pausch addressed the gatekeeper in his last lecture as well. Obstacles, he said, are not there to keep you out. They’re there to keep everyone else from getting in. Think how much easier it is to say, I didn’t follow through because something came up, because there was an obstacle, because, frankly, it would have been hard.
Happily, the Photographer’s plan is still intact, though his truck will need some work. The subject of the program he will enter in the fall? Auto collision repair. Seriously.