This journey of reading ‘The Road Less Traveled’ by Scott Peck is very personal for me. I’ve heard about this phenomenal book since years ago – but I always find the excuse of not borrowing or buying this book. Until about a month ago when I was in faculty’s library. I was looking for some references for my classes and bumped into a yellowish book! And there it was! The book that have been waiting for me. I decided to borrow that book. What I thought was: if this book is really as good as what I’ve heard, I will buy this book.
What happened next is easy to guess. I simply fall in love with the truth in this book. Scott Peck is not just talking theoretically about the lessons in life, but he also lives the norms and values that he’s talking in his book.
I just arrived at the end of the first section – Discipline. I was struck by the weight that Peck mentioned about the meaning of problems. We usually see problems as barriers, as something that we should eliminate, but there are more in problems. “Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually” (p. 16). When we try to avoid problems, most of the time they will come back and haunt us because “problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit” (p. 30).
One of many ways that people do to avoid problems is by telling lies – hoping that the truth will be covered under the stack of lies that they create. As a professional psychologist, I see many clients who come and bring their heavy burden into the psychotherapy sessions. Peck mentioned, “One of the roots of mental illness is invariably an interlocking system of lies we have been told and lies we have told ourselves. These roots can be uncovered and excised only in an atmosphere of utter honesty … openness and truthfulness” (p. 58).
When we are brave enough to face the problems with openness and truthfulness, we can at last make our decision with total awareness – for our own good. “For to exercise power is to make decisions, and the process of making decisions with total awareness is often infinitely more painful than making decisions with limited or blunted awareness (which is the way most decisions are made and why they are ultimately proved wrong; p. 75).
Why we do have to be discipline and go through a lot of painful process? I believe the word of St Josemaria Escriva can give the closure perfectly: ” … without those clashes, which arise in dealing with your neighbors, how could you ever lose the sharp corners, the edges – the imperfections and defects of your character – and acquire the order, the smoothness and the firm mildness of charity, of perfection? If your character and that of those around you were soft and sweet like marshmallows, you would never become a saint” (The Way, #20, p. 7).
Way to go, people! It may seem hard, but it is surely possible. Face your problems when they come, delay your gratifications and reap the fruits of your efforts flawlessly!