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Keep climbing, and look for strong branches

As I step outside today, I feel fall in the air.

I love the quiet of early morning. It is cool and crisp, with hardly a cloud in the sky. The mountains are a constant source of beauty in the distance.

At moments like this, it is not hard to be in gratitude. Some view fall as an ending, but many cultures celebrate it as the start of a new year full of hope and dreams. Many find that resolutions and goals made in the fall fare better than those made on Jan. 1.

What makes people enthusiastic about planning their future?

As I think about this in the context of mortality, I believe the operative word is “hope.”

People will do amazing things when they have hope; they will also completely shut down and quit living if they do not have it.

What is it about the nature of humanity that makes this so? Hope seems to be as necessary to the human spirit as food and water is to the human body, and both are essential to life.

Hope is a tricky thing; it is based on the future, and sometimes a favorable outcome is not under our control but someone else’s, or controlled by some other group. If the hope is a really important one, then disappointment can really sow the seeds of bitterness and resentment.

Our quest for hope seems to me to be somewhat like climbing a tree; if you grab a limb and it breaks, you could fall to the ground hurt, or another branch could catch you and you could go on climbing. Free choice is involved with each step. Whether people fall and climb again sometimes has to do with how many times they have fallen, or how hard they hit the ground. Some people who have a very hard fall never get back up again.

Then there are those who won’t ever climb in the first place. I think of those folks as pessimists. They go about on the ground glancing upward occasionally because they are sure something is going to fall down and hit them, and they are often right about that, since others are climbing above them.

So, which group am I in?

Well, at present it seems obvious that I am still a climber. I have hit the ground pretty hard here lately. In fact, I have had more than one branch at a time break, and some were really high up, so I have splatted onto the ground with vigor!

After several of those falls I was pretty sure I could not get up again.

What made me change my mind? Several things, I guess. For one thing, it is boring laying on the ground waiting for something else to fall on you. It can also be scary and if you are going to be scared, you may as well be climbing.

Also, one of the things I learned from PSI personal growth courses that has served me well over the years is the saying, “So what? Now what?” In other words, what happened in the past is in the past, so don’t drag it with you into the future. You can’t change it and it will drag you down.

Like a lot of things, this is easier said than done sometimes, but when you are laying on the ground having knocked all the wind out of yourself, it becomes more clear. What are you going to do? Lay there? Yell at the tree? Sue the tree?

I think I will just get up and have another go at it.

Please wish me good luck and strong branches!

This story was posted on September 26, 2012.