Climb that ladder
The non-italicized part of this post is a re-post of my 4/5/11 post. But it is so applicable for me today….many of you weren’t around back then, so I thought you might enjoy it. I often explain to my students that life and their education is definitely a ladder. Sometimes I get tired of climbing my own ladders in life. Maybe that is why we are encouraged to rest, exercise, pray, visit with friends, and eat a restorative meal. Each of those things can serve as a scaffolding to stand upon while we catch our breaths, can’t they? Anyway—my students finish finals on Thursday. Then I can spend a few days here on one of my favorite scaffolds, and I can come and visit your blogs and bring you picnic baskets, okay? Pax Dominus today.
As I journey through life and contemplate how I should approach its challenges, I have moments that are filled with analogies. Throughout my life I have been surrounded by relatives, teachers, and friends who spoke in analogies and/or sayings and expressions. When I was a teenager I would often roll my eyes at these analogies. Why? Well, I wanted them to stop talking, stop lecturing, and stop giving me advice. I had no idea how brilliant they all were … because I suppose I thought I knew everything.
Then I became an adult. After awhile I came to see that at times I knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Then it happened. I began to think and speak in analogies and or sayings and expressions. When I did, I was able to make sense of things and find my way through a whole host of situations. This came in handy after I became a mom. We all swear we will be different as parents than my parents were. However, even as a teenager I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my parents were wise, had solid values, and were wrong about life so seldom that it wasn’t worth second guessing them. So I was very, very lucky and blessed. My value system was quite solid thanks to God, my parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, and wisely chosen friends.
At one point I was discussing how terrific I thought I was because my values were solid. My parents were quick to remind me that I had been very blessed—that I had been surrounded by solid examples. In other words, they didn’t want me to become conceited about my values and accomplishments….they were right, of course. In any event, over the years I have gotten more determined. Determined not to shrink back from a challenge or a difficulty. As I told one of my first bosses, “Well you may as well turn over the reins to me for the management job. When I transition from trainee to manager, at some point I will fall on my tail a bit. We may as well get that part over with”! He did, and I managed it just fine.
Sometimes when I am going through an emotionally difficult situation (involving grief, loneliness or illness ) I tell God to take it away, that I just can’t handle it. Of course, He doesn’t take away the situation. Is that because He wants to see me suffer? Probably not, actually. He does want to see me through it. He does want me to be filled with the courage that He provides. Each time I go through one of those situations, as it turns out, I become a little more automatically courageous. Sometimes you just have to march forward as if you are brave. You tell yourself you are brave, you are courageous, and that you can handle it. Well, your mind believes the messages it receives, so your mind will believe you!
I love the songwriters and musicians that provide us with lovely songs and messages. Carole King and James Taylor come to mind, of course. . . and Neil Diamond , Billy Joel, and many more. (I know, and of course the Beatles—-I was just initially thinking of James Taylor because I just saw him on television on Sunday night—and I just love James Taylor).
I believe it is important to fall a little more in love with life (even the dismal moments) each day, week, month, and year. Life is a journey—sometimes climbing that mountain on foot or bicycle; sometimes walking by the shore; sometimes watching the sunrise or sunset.
Perhaps it is like Bob Dylan said, and it is a ladder to the stars. You have to climb that ladder. But the ladder is of our own making. If we remain weak and closed off or selfish, the ladder we build is rickety. If instead we spend our lives building a community, and striving to make the world better, model love and strength for others, and take time to laugh—we build ourselves a strong ladder that can help us reach the stars. This keeps us strong yet supple….keeps us young but not immature or helpless. In Forever Young, Bob Dylan wrote (and sang):
“May you build a ladder to the stars/
and climb on every rung/
May you stay….forever young”.
May your day be blessed today—may God hold you in the hollow of His hand. I hope that your journey today is one that gives you reinforcement, love, joy, and nourishment