The Gift at Hand – Alan Cohen

Sometimes when things seem to be going wrong, they are going right for reasons you are yet to understand.

– Alan Cohen

The big day was finally here. Denny had set a goal to run the famous Pike’s Peak Marathon on his 50th birthday, and now he stood at the starting line. For a year, he had trained arduously to master the grueling race, 13 miles up the mountain, then 13 miles down.

Denny surprised himself with the speed and strength of his ascent, and felt exhilarated as he began to make his way down. Then he got stuck behind a slow runner. The narrow path through the woods forced him to lay back and wait for an opening to pass. For a long time Denny had to hang behind a runner struggling to maintain even a moderate pace. Silently Denny criticized the fellow for even entering the race. No one so out of shape should be allowed to run, he grumbled to himself. Meanwhile the back of the man’s t-shirt kept staring Denny in the face: “Bob’s #4.” Denny grew curious about the meaning of those words.

Finally Denny found an opportunity to pass, and did so deftly. As he overtook the huffing and puffing runner, Denny asked him, “What’s ‘Bob’s #4?'”

“My friend Bob had a dream to run this marathon four times in his life,” the fellow answered between breaths. “He ran it three times and then he died last year. I decided I would complete his dream for him. This is Bob’s #4.”

You may be tempted to judge people or events that seem to be standing in your way. Yet you never know for sure why anyone is doing anything. Everyone has their own reasons for their actions, and often there is a meaning or beauty that we do not recognize at first glance. What appears to be a a roadblock may offer us an important lesson or blessing.

If things seem to be not falling into place as you had planned, look for the gift in the moment. Usually there is greater value in that gift than the object you were pushing to attain. Then, gift in hand, the roadblock will likely clear and you will really be on your way.

How might things be going right even when they seem to be going wrong?

I look for the blessing right where I stand.

As I open my mind, doors in the world open too.


Alan Cohen, M.A., is the author of 24 popular inspirational books, including the best-selling The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the award-winningA Deep Breath of Life, and the classicAre You as Happy as Your Dog? He is a contributing writer for the New York Times #1 bestselling series Chicken Soup for the Soul, and his books have been translated into 24 foreign languages. His work has been featured on and in USA Today, The Washington Post and 101 Top Experts. Alan’s radio program Get Real is broadcast weekly on Hay House Radio, and his monthly column From the Heart is featured in magazines internationally.

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