From the time we are able to walk, we have a curiosity to climb. And for some the curiosity is stronger than others. Some have the motivation and instinct to climb more than others – for instance those who choose to rock climb, or climb Mount Everest. For others, the climb can be difficult – and not necessarily because they are not agile, it has more to do with the idea of being overwhelmed with such a climb.
If you’ve ever watched a determined child climb up on a counter to get to a cupboard to reach cookies that they are not supposed to eat, you know that for some, climbing is really about reward.
And that’s how we should look at climbing – for every step we take is another step toward reaching a goal, reaching a dream, reaching upward to touch faith or overcoming an obstacle.
I was in a store the other day watching a father and son argue. The son was about 12 years old. The father was arguing with his son about how he should play Guitar Hero. The son was basically arguing that he had played the game before and that he wanted the game because he liked it. The father was determined that his son forego the game as a pre-cursor to him learning to play an instrument and if he was going to learn music, he might as well learn it the ‘right way’ and take lessons.
This made me ponder the idea of the two parallel ladders of the climb. The father’s climb was more about structure, getting an early start. Perhaps he was reflecting upon his own path of regret in his childhood, or basically one of control and discipline. The son’s climb was about experimentation, baby-stepping on his ladder to enjoy the idea of the game he liked to play. What the father failed to realize was that maybe if the son enjoyed this game that maybe his son might choose to climb his ladder eventually, but was basically experimenting with music at this stage. And what the son failed to realize was that his father would be willing to pay for a ‘real’ guitar to learn on, something he wouldn’t actually have to ask for, because his father was open to the idea. The father was probably hoping his son would realize other kids would give their right arm for what was just offered. While the son wasn’t ready to take on that offering, and merely only wanted the game.
It is interesting to examine this argument. It was even more interesting to examine the two ladders each chose to climb. What was even more fascinating than that was that there was a third ladder there, one which neither father nor son chose to put a foot on… the one of understanding where the other was coming from and instead choosing to just argue and argue. In reality, both wanted something. And both were ultimately wanting a positive outcome. But neither could step outside of the argument to realize this.
And yes, there was yet a fourth ladder here – one of perspective. And this is a ladder the son will appreciate when he’s say, 30 or 40 or when his father is dead – that he had a father to spend time with, and yes, even argue with and that he had a father who wanted to go shopping in a store with him and want something more for him. And the father will step foot on this ladder when the son is older, off having his own life and realize that his son’s life is the way it is because all along, the son was a baby-stepper in his climb, taking on obstacles. He chose to explore things his way with his independent likes and dislikes, not always conforming to what his father’s ideas were.
It’s an interesting set of ladders. No ladder is right or wrong. But the ladders are there. Each chose to step on their own ladders their way.
What we need to think about with our own ladders is that for every ladder we choose to climb, there are other ladders present. Sometimes our actions will affect someone else’s ladder. Sometimes we need to look beyond our own ladder. And sometimes still, we need to be patient with ourselves and the steps we take – no matter how big or how small or even if we fall off the ladder. We need to cherish the ladder, taking steps and honor the fact that making the climb is part of life. This is how we learn about ourselves and what we’re made of. But it’s also important for us to examine that the ladder isn’t as important as the people in our lives who either are on ladders, at the bottom of ladders in the middle of ladders, stuck on their ladders or those who are rebuilding their ladders after a fire.
And no matter where we are on the ladder, if we are indeed climbing, we are living life. We don’t need to compare ourselves and our ladders to anyone else’s, nor judge others and the climb they are on. Each is for purpose. We have our own surprises at the top of our own ladders and we’ll even see surprises at the top of other’s ladders.
But regardless of where we are, we must attempt the climb. And we must keep climbing, even if it is baby-stepping it our way, our own way, to discover more along the way, as we ascend up our ladder.
One of the great gifts of the ladder is that it is there, for us to climb, when we choose as we choose and how we choose. And that is the ladder of life – growing, climbing, learning and becoming more aware, more educated so that as we look all around, the view just becomes more beautiful for us to see. Especially if we are looking at all the faces of others on their ladders and appreciate them as they are. Keep climbing.