I was having a deep discussion with my father a few days ago, a man filled with wisdom and silliness, a receptacle of obscure but interesting knowledge and possessing a remarkable long-term memory, much to my envy.
He said to me ‘I remember a quote from someone, I cannot remember his name (unusual, so that was for him), but he said: ‘People climb ladders, but often, when they get to the top, they realise they were somewhere they didn’t want to be.”
This seemed very profound to me and I thought about it a bit.
We seem to build ladders in the world, whether it be working up through a job, or getting married and having children, doing what is socially acceptable for us. We build our sense of progress in the world around us and showcase it to everyone saying .Hey, look at me! Look how high I am!’.
The trouble is, when we focus only on what we are to other people, we lose our ability to focus on who we are to ourselves. What authenticity can I have when I spend my life showing people what they want to see?
My father also said this: ‘When you walk out the door in the morning, somebody will hate you or resent you, even if you’re doing everything right’.
So who are we trying to be? Why do we try so hard to be loved by those who don’t even know who we are? Even still, there are those who will hate us independent of which mask we present, or even when we represent ourselves authentically.
So, I’m thinking hard about where my ladders are and what I should do with them. At the end, when all is said and done, the only thing I should be climbing is the effigy of my past selves. Up and up, I count forward from what I was yesterday and how I can become better today.
I want to climb a ladder to the best version of myself. Not the version of me people expect or want, but the version of me that allows me to be myself in a world filled with expectations about who somebody should be.
Whenever you feel that pit in your stomach or a darkness looming over your head, consider, ‘what wall am I facing and should I be climbing?’. Search for rooftops eclipsed in a halo of sunshine, warmth and bliss.
Put down your ladder down, and climb.