Saturday, April 15, 2006

Where does your ladder of life take you?

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.
- Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist and writer (1825-1995)

Moving on a ladder is a good analogy for life. No one (except a Peeping Tom) stands still on a ladder.

The entire purpose of a ladder is to get us to a higher level than we were before so that we can do things we have not done before. True, we may descend the ladder later, but that is only when our mission is complete.

There are those who use a ladder for a purpose that involves going down, such as the repair of a well. But, again, they resume their original place once their mission is complete, having accomplished something in the interim.

Some people use life like a ladder going down, but they never come up. Surely I don't need to cite examples as they are around us too frequently. For these people, life is self destructive. Eventually their world becomes so small that they don't want to have much to do with anything outside their own homes. For them, loneliness is the inevitable end of the road.

Others use their life ladder to climb up, and up, and up, but don't pay sufficient attention to where they are going. They assume (following the propaganda line pitched to them by industries) that anything that goes up is good.

Well, it isn't. I don't know a single executive who is truly happy. They make lots of money, but they spend it (or invest it for an unspecified future) as quickly as it comes in. For them, money has become the objective. It doesn't matter much where they must go to get it, so long as they continue to make more of it.

They don't know how to be happy, though they convince themselves that they are happy being rich. Fair enough, but they miss out on much of what life is about.

Life is not about the work you do for others. It's about the work you do for yourself that benefits others. Any work you do just for yourself makes you too selfish to enjoy it. It must help others to get the most satisfaction out of it.

If you can make the distinction, you are happy, or on the road to it.

If not, best of luck on that ladder.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help you get the top of your ladder where you want to go.
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