On an unusually warm day this February, I was walking around Harvard Square, enjoying the vibrant energy of shoppers, and the beautiful weather. I stopped to watch a pantomime artist who was pretending that he was scaling the wall of a store on an imaginary ladder. He pulled the “ladder” off the roof off the back of a truck parked nearby, leaned it against the building, and proceeded to “climb.” It was a wonderful skit, very funny. He truly made it seem like the non-existent ladder was alternately sliding to the right and the left while he desperately clung on for dear life as he tried to keep his balance.
A young boy, probably five years of age or so, held his mother’s hand and looked on at the show, totally engrossed in the drama. After a few minutes of observing, he looked up at his mother and said, “If that man really wanted to climb up that building, mom, he needs a real ladder. It would be dumb if he thought he could get to the roof with a fake one.”
Wow, life had sent me an ordinary guru with perfect timing. Foolishly, at the time, I was doing this very thing. I was using an imaginary ladder to try to climb up and over an obstacle, a personal family issue with my sister. I had lots of talks with her about how her actions had upset me. But all of them were in my head. Self talk. What a burst of insight from the young child! If I was going to resolve the issue, I was going to have to stop using an imaginary phone to engage in pretend conversations. It was time to dial her number and talk the matter through — for real.
Thank you, young guru, for pointing out that it’s stupid of me to think I can climb to where I want to be by simply imagining what I have to do, but not acting on it. A real ladder is the only way to get to the top.
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