Sunday, February 15, 2015

You Might Not Climb the Ladder


You might not climb the ladder.

You might try, of course. You might even get far, almost to the top, or to what you perceived as the top. You might become disoriented, realizing the ladder grows even as you ascend it, extending infinitely into the sky.

Alternately, you might find it too short, wholly unsuited for the height you have in mind.

You might, in a fit of frustration, decide to throw the ladder aside; grip one of its rickety metal rungs in your closed fists, lift the whole mass of it high over your head, and slam it – clatter, cla-bang – onto the pavement at your side.

You might look at the ladder, it hinges now loosened and jangling, and and wonder what now?

So, you might be forced to invent another way.

You might, for example, try crafting a pulley of hand-braided rope. But when the rains come, the knots in your rope might become weathered and frayed, and your pulley might not seem safe. So you might depend on the strength of your body to hoist yourself up and over railings and around pillars, the muscles of your abdomen contracting with effort.

You might reach what you thought was the top, only to find another, more intricate set of obstacles to navigate. You might find the roof had been an illusion from the ground.

As you stand there, pondering your next move, the building itself might start to sway in the wind. Your legs buckling and quaking beneath you, you might question its construction altogether. Who had built it? What was it made of? Why was it so important to reach the top?

As you ponder the integrity of the structure, the roof might cave in.

You might fall several stories or more. You might stand up, stiff and aching, to survey the rubble and wreckage that now surrounds you.

You might, for a moment, lift your eyes to the horizon. With no ladder and no structure to distract, you might notice, for the first time, where you are.

You might notice, for example, the liveliness of the colors that surround you: the robin's egg blue of the sky, the bright emerald-hued flora, and the light that bathes it all in tones of gold at dusk.

You might notice the others all around you, climbing furiously or tossing their ladders aside or devising alternate methods, or falling to the ground. You might find yourself wondering: what is the point?

You might notice, too, beyond the clanging and the clattering and the structures that surround you, a lush hillside beckons.

So you might begin to walk.

And as you reach the hill and begin to hike its gentle slope, you might realize your shoes had been lost in the fall. You might notice that you feel each individual blade of grass beneath your toes. You might smile what feels like your first real smile.

At the top of the hill, a group might gathered. They might be laughing, and might tease you gently as you arrive. "It took you long enough to get here!" a woman might say, a twinkle in her eye.

You might feel at home immediately without knowing why.

You might turn around and gaze back down the hill and try to call to the others still climbing their ladders. They might not hear you. The wind might carry your voice away.

But every few days, a new person might arrive at the top of the hill and be welcomed into the community.

You might, over time, realize the ladder was never the problem. And that, if only you had lifted your eyes to the horizon sooner, you would have seen the lushness that awaited you.

You might be standing on the ground looking up, daunted. 

You might be pondering whether there's another way to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Listen for that faint voice that calls to you. The one that says look over there

Look hard. 

Do you see it?

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