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In fiction we writers create obstacles for our characters because we know it is through conflict they will reveal who they are and what they are made of at their core.  In life, the obstacles are often created for us. And it is our choice as to whether or not we surmount them.  Obstacles often come in the form of a person we perceive as difficult or a life challenge such as ill health, the death of someone we love, a divorce, a job loss, or for us writers--yet another rejection letter.  It's important to remember there are gifts in making the effort to step back, see the problem for what it really is, and start climbing up and over it. The view from the top is often different from the one at the bottom and the gifts received from our efforts to make the climb can be both life changing and life affirming. I often wonder how many people, writers especially, give up just before something wonderful is about to happen. 

My daughter and I begin each day with a telephone call (she lives in San Diego, I in southern Oregon) in which we take turns reading aloud a daily reflection by Mark Nepo in his work entitled, The Book of Awakening. The pieces are brief and followed by a short meditation. I was especially moved this week by one of his entries. When The Path is Blocked, Back Up and See More of the Way.  Our reading prompted me to stop and think about the way I sometimes judge a person or a situation without seeing the whole picture. In these times of political diversion when our country and often our families are divided, it seems especially appropriate to take that step back and realize what really matters most to all of us is love. 

All life is finite. We will all die.  And when that end comes, we won't be thinking about what we did or didn't accomplish in our lives or what political party or candidate we supported. We will be focused on the people we loved and how well we loved them. My work as a hospice volunteer has made me as certain about this as I am anything: Those final reflections on our joys and regrets will be centered on love and nothing else.   

Just as the mountain is clearer from a distance so are the people and obstacles in our lives. We have the choice to view ourselves and others in wholeness. We have the opportunity to see each challenge and each individual in their entirety. We can make the choice to keep climbing rather than give up and walk away. We can choose love over hate and diversion. We can keep our dreams alive, pursue them with every ounce of our being, and still choose the path of love. The path that matters most.  




08/11/2016 11:59am

Love is the only way indeed. Hard to remember when people act like imbeciles. Yet, when I get depressed about it, I always turn to my favorite MLK quotes like this one: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

09/01/2016 4:25am

Life is an unpredictable whirlpool of people, things or circumstances. each of us has the opportunity to choose the path we like to walk through. In my opinion, choosing love over anything else is the way for us to live a happy and fulfilling life. Although love requires sacrifice, we should be reminded that there are some things that we need to give up to get something greater. May the paths we choose take us to happiness.


Love must be the center of everything that we are doing. In every action that we are showing towards other people, there must always be love. Life is short and yes we will all die eventually. And because of this we should not do things that we will just regret doing in the end. We are made to show love and to be loved. So no matter what the cost is, let us give love and peace to ourselves and to others as well,


Love is the answer to all your needs. Just remember that the whole world of love is behind your door.

Bob Olds
08/11/2016 12:12pm

It’s very helpful to get reminders like this, written so eloquently, as we face ongoing obstacles in life. Much as we long for breaks, we know they will be brief. And, of course, giving our characters breaks from obstacles and conflict can mean losing readers. You have outlined our challenges well, with great advice about facing them. Thanks for another intelligent and wise blog, Susan.

08/11/2016 5:03pm

Great blog and a wonderful reminder for all of us, let love be the path we take!

John M.
08/12/2016 8:37am

I envy the fact that you can so profoundly utilize verbiage to deploy the feelings that I can live and show.....just not profess rhetorically or on paper. Beth and I miss both you and Andy. We will look forward to reading your future blogs. If you are ever back in TN, come by and break bread with us.

08/13/2016 1:20pm

Thanks for reminding us what our priorities in life should be. Keeping our dreams alive and choosing love should be engraved on our computers.

Kathy Goldner
08/14/2016 5:21pm

True. Beautiful. So important, and so hard (why is that?) to remember every day. I do find though, if I can step back and remember this, that the anxiety floats away.

susan domingos
08/14/2016 5:51pm

Thanks for reminding me of what really matters. Susan D.

Cynthia R
08/16/2016 1:13pm

You have the magic touch to soothe my soul. I've been in a conflicted state of mind lately. Daydreaming, contemplating, pondering. The whole nine yards.
This blog helped me slow my thought process. While I know and live on the path of love, there are obstacles that challenge me.
Thank you for reminding me to step back. Not just one step on some days, but perhaps two or three.

Martha R
08/31/2016 1:21pm

I too feel calmed when I read your words today, Susan. I love just hearing this single bit of advice: "When the path is blocked, back up and see more of the way."

I feel blocked today. How do I back up, or back off, in order to see more? This becomes my practice for today. Thank you.

09/02/2016 10:07am

Thank you for creating and sharing with the world this most amazing heartfelt and transforming blog; the last two paragraphs of which could easily be read out loud as part of one’s daily prayer for a more collaborative and enlightened humanity in which one hopes we all might eventually grasp Mark Nepo’s axiom that “life is always where we are.” The first paragraph reminds me of differing versions of “Don’t Give Up”; one by David Soul that a friend introduced me to in 1976 as well as to a duet by the same name from Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush in 1986 that became a personal anthem for me.
The role of love in faith, family, and formation is perhaps no better articulated than by Viktor E. Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning: “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”
If we were asked to place just one single plaque inscribed with a quote into a hospice setting this could well be our path-centric choice: “We ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” ― Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey.


Wow, your words are very wise. You are such a good writer! It's an amazing post.


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