OBSTACLE OR OPPORTUNITY, WHICH?

Every one who has been present at field day sports will recall the "obstacle race" which usually appears on the program. Across the course, at various intervals, are set brush hedges, through which the contestants must push their way; barrels, hung dangling from an overhead beam, through which they must clamber; high board fences, tilted back toward the starting-line, over which one must somehow climb; broad strips of canvas, fastened down at the ends, beneath which one must wriggle, and a half dozen other devices seemingly to hinder the runners, but actually only to test their quickness of thought and agility. It is always an event to set the grand stands laughing, and some of the spectators may see in the cause of their amusement a close parallel to every-day life and its pointed lesson. The man who wins that race is not always the fellow who jumps to the front at the crack of the starter's pistol, but he is one who knows how to turn what are called obstacles into opportunities. As La Rochefoucauld once said: "Many a man, when chance seems to oppose him, finds only an opportunity to make himself known to others, and, most of all, to himself."

The successful men, of all time, have urged the necessity of being on the watch for opportunity, and the young men of today, planning brilliant futures, long for Dame Opportunity's knock at their doors. The knock comes, surely; but they look from the window and see only Mistress Obstacle waiting on the step, and discouraged, or "resigned" (as they may say), they go back to the hearthside to wait a while longer. Books of synonyms do not give "obstacle" and "opportunity" as meaning much the same thing, while the dictionaries speak of one as that which opposes progress and of the other as that which helps; but the fact remains that to get the better of what seems to stand in the way of advance is to make of it an opportunity for advance. Was there not some such thought in the mind of Shakespeare, when he put into the mouth of his banished duke the much-quoted lines,—

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THE VALUE OF PERSISTENCE
May 13, 1911
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