In life, obstacles are teachers. This is hard to accept, especially when we're in the midst of troubles. There is no escaping difficulty, though, because difficulty is always a part of our experiences. It's how we hold the difficulty that lets us move through it. The deeper way to uncover any experience is not trying to analyze it, not trying to sort it or to decode it, but to take very small steps to let it in, to let it work us and to see what's there right before us. Because often, that's where the simplest teachers present themselves.

So when you're stuck, be with the stuckness until it starts to dissipate. It's the cloud in the way. The question is, What's on the other side of the cloud? There is no shortage of doorways through which the majesty of life presents itself. Given this, we're constantly asked to be with what's before us till it reveals itself and to enter the conversation that difficulty opens. When things go wrong, we need to see through our confusion and pain and ask, "What is this obstacle trying to teach me?" When things don't go as planned, we need to put down the plan and enter the terrain of things as they are. Once there, we can begin to help each other take the next step.

All this brings us to the art of taking small steps, the practice of which comes from another part of the world. When in Brazil, my friend David encountered the phrase E daí (ay-die-ee), which is Portuguese for "And then?" Regardless of the story told or hardship conveyed, the custom is for the listener to ask after a while, "E daí?" with a tone that implies, "And so? What now?" Literally, e is "and" and daí means "from there, from a place near you," as in, "What is just beyond where you are?" or "And so, what is your next step?"

The phrase E daí invokes three successive meanings, often asked as three different questions by the one who will hear you out. First: "I hear what life has given you. E daí? And so, what does this matter? What does this mean?" Second: "I see where you are. E daí? And so, from there, what is in front of you? What is just beyond where you are?" And third: "E daí? And so, what now? What is your next step?"

Next: The conversation that will change everything


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