The Roach Problem
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
Yesterday morning while I was at work, I visited the restroom and encountered the biggest roach I have ever seen in my life.
Now I’m not a person who fears much. As the man of my household, I am the one who is traditionally called upon to handle any fearsome insect or force of nature that dares to invade the sanctuary that is our home. I have gone into battle with massive spiders, faced down praying mantises, and warded off an ant apocalypse.
But never in my life have I encountered a creature like the one I saw that day. The thing was massive, easily half the size of my cell phone, and stood on the floor defiantly before me, the light glaring off of its brownish red body in a clear declaration that none would pass.
Within moments, I had decided that my desire to use this restroom was not greater than my desire to get away from the horrible thing that stood in my path. I quickly turned away from the beast and exited the facility.
I felt slightly silly for a moment as I fled the scene, but at the same time rationalized that my job was simply not paying me enough to take on demonized pokemon. The thing wanted the restroom and as far as I was concerned it could have it.
But then the realization occurred to me that I was better than that, that I did not have to fear a bug, even if it did look like it had crawled straight out of the pit of hell. I reminded myself that I was a military trained soldier, and a man who refused to back down from anything or anyone, even if it was a creature as horrid as an impossibly large cockroach. I took a deep breath and turned back to face my adversary.
I reentered the restroom, this time with a new determination. The hell spawn stood waiting for me, literally unmoved by my new resolve.
We stood in the center of the tiled floor facing off against one another like a scene from an old western movie. As we each waited for the other to make the first move, there was the sound of a toilet flushing in the distance.
I sighed in relief at the sound. I knew that within moments there would be someone coming who would be able to help me get through the situation.
Sure enough, a rather large man exited the stall. He cursed loudly when he saw the thing, made a quick comment about the size of the creature, and simply walked around it, leaving me alone once again to face the abomination.
Finally, I reached my breaking point. I reached deep inside of my spirit and pulled out what I needed to handle the situation. I looked down at the thing, and although I am against the killing of insects I knew that the situation needed to be resolved immediately. I steeled myself and swept my foot against the thing, kicking it out of my path so that I could continue on into the restroom.
After I was done with the facilities, I headed back down the roach path, expecting to see the thing waiting for me full of fire and indignation. What I saw instead was the thing cowering in a corner, not daring to stand in my way again.
Immediately I realized that the roach had been a metaphor for the problems we all face daily as we continue down the path of life.
Think about it: more times than not when faced with a problem our first response is fear. We think about what will happen if we lose money. We imagine that the idea we thought was great yesterday simply won’t work today. We become afraid that our problem might cause us physical discomfort or pain. We wonder what our friends will think of us. We even sometimes feel guilty about wanting more because we don’t want to make anyone else feel bad about our success.
As if fearing the problem wasn’t enough, we also tend to exaggerate the issue. Just like I heralded the roach as the second coming of Satan, we often think that our problems are unique to us, that no one in the history of mankind has ever had a problem like the one we have right now. The reality is that the problems we face are nothing more than issues common to man. In other words, if you are dealing with a problem, it’s a pretty good bet that someone else has dealt with and overcome the exact same problem. Every problem has one thing in common: a solution. It’s just up to the person dealing with the problem to find that solution.
Another thing we do is magnify the problem. In retrospect, I realize that I could have simply walked around the roach to reach my destination. However, I instead chose to imagine in my mind that the thing was King Roach and had somehow claimed dominance over the entire pathway. That’s the exact same thing we tend to do when facing our own issues and obstacles. We tend to make them bigger than they are and use that perception as an excuse for inaction, telling ourselves there’s no way we can get past that thing.
As we magnify our problems, we simultaneously minimize ourselves. Here I was, legions bigger than a mere insect, yet instead of remembering that I instead lowered myself to a point where I believed that the thing was actually a threat to me. Since when has a roach had the ability to defeat a human being? But that is the exact same reaction many of us have to our problems. Instead of looking at ourselves as a force larger than the problem we instead focus on the problem, minimizing ourselves in the process.
Another thing I did was breathe a sigh of relief when I realized that there was someone else in the restroom. I was essentially looking to someone else to deliver me from a problem that was mine to deal with. That is another mistake we as humans make all to often. Instead of taking ownership of our problems we look to other people to handle them for us. What we don’t realize is that when we do that we validate our own feeling of powerlessness. If another person bails us out of trouble one time, who do you think we’re going to call when that problem arises again? And what happens if our savior is unavailable the next time? We’re either going to have to handle the issue ourselves or find another savior. Why not just find a way to resolve the problem ourselves in the first place?
As I look back on the situation, I realize that the only way I was able to defeat the roach problem was to take control of the situation. It was my foot and my foot alone that served as my deliverance. The same goes for all of us and the obstacles we face in life. Only once we realize that we have the solution to our problems within ourselves will we ever truly be able to free ourselves from whatever issue we are facing.
Make today the day you finally defeat that thing.
We’ll talk again…