Note to Myself No. 13

Once, a few years ago,
I attended a writing conference
on the campus of Brown University. 
The summer session was taking place,
so there were lots of students around
(some of whom thanked us for coming, 
because the food in the cafeteria improved
when there were conferences on campus).

One day, as I was walking between workshops,
I paused to watch a young man
who was practicing his skills as a tightrope walked.
He had a rope tautly stretch between two large trees,
perhaps two to three feet off the ground.
Enough height to practice,
but not enough to break bones 
if balance didn't outwit gravity.

He moved slowly, with determination,
a look of concentration on his face.
One foot. . .
then gingerly, the next foot.
Sometimes his arms shot out to steady him.
And sometimes,
his arms weren't enough
and he'd fall (or self-propel)
from the tightrope.
He'd shake off the mishap
and mount the rope again,
always looking to gain mastery.

Life's kind of like that.
One foot in front of the other, 
progressing down the path
and trying to keep our balance steady.

Not always succeeding.

But picking ourselves up
after a fall,
and starting anew.

And learning to notice
when others are flailing
and extending a helping hand
when our feet are on steady ground.


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