I was walking with my mom up to Sherrard Point this last weekend. She’s now 64, and it’s getting harder and harder for her to walk up mountains. Or stairs, for that matter.
She’s always been a fiery one, though, and even though we had to take longer, she was determined that she would do it. She had my arm, and we would both take a step up together, position our feet, and then take the next step up. I could tell as we were walking that she was a bit frustrated and embarrassed about how long it was taking.
“Mom, it’s okay,” I said. “We’re in no hurry. We planned plenty of time, and we don’t have to do anything else.”
At one point, she said something along the lines of, “You know, you never think that you’re not going to be able to do these things when you’re young, but here I am. I’m old and I can’t do like I used to.”
I looked at her and I said, “Mom, the truth of the matter is we’re challenged at every age. It’s just now you’re challenged by these physical things.”
Mom could only see how long it was taking and how much harder it was for her; she couldn’t see that we were proud that she was even trying it. We made it up the hill with plenty of time to do other things in the day, and a 64-year old woman got to see what many much younger people won’t.
In other contexts, I’ve said that it doesn’t matter if it’s taken you longer than you thought it would. While you’re taking your time walking up the hill, step by step, there are plenty of people who look up the hill and give up before the start. Keep stepping.
We often think that we’ll reach a point in our lives to where we don’t have any challenges, but in every stage of our lives, ventures, careers, or relationships, we’ll be challenged by both the things we expect and the things we don’t. As long as we’re walking uphill, there will be challenges.
It’s not the lack of challenges that make us successful; what makes us successful is continuing to take the steps that get us a few inches higher, despite how challenging it is. And, later, knowing when you’ve climbed as far as you want or need to go.
Thanks for helping me practice this, Mom.
Cath Duncan says
Sounds like a lovely time together. Your lucky mum to have a boy (man) like you, Charlie.
Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been telling myself about blogging for HBB. And, I was hearing the self-advice in your voice, so now I totally know why. 🙂
This is a really great post, Charlie!
Jonathan Ziemba says
To a never ending thirst Charlie.
Hear, hear. Thank you for the encouragement today.
Oye Vye Charlie.
You’ve been reading my mail. I so need this one today. Thank you. 🙂
“We’re challenged at EVERY age ..” – thank you. That clunked me over the head and put it into perspective.
At not quite but very close to 50, I am having trouble adjusting to the fact that like it or not, we all age and I’m no exception.
Lovely story about your mom and your sweet comment. Thank you for sharing it.
Catherine Morgan says
Thanks for the great post, Charlie. Perfect post for a Monday. I think lots of people are feeling challenged today. I know that I am feeling a little like I am banging my head against the wall but I know I am doing all the right things and that I just have to keep on doing them. They will pay off in the longer term.
Molly Gordon, Self-Employment Coach says
Yes. Yes. Yes.
There’s a sweetness about how you communicated this very important lesson, Charlie. Thank you for that.
So often we think that the difficulties we face are a function of some lack or failure on our part. In fact, the world just is the way it is, and difficulties are not personal. No matter where you are on the path, there is always another step, and another, and another.
It’s always something, and isn’t that great?
Lee Miller says
I just love this! Your Mother has taught you well. You are a lovely son, Charlie.
Sandra Lee says
So true this illusion that we will come to a point when challenges magically disappear! It’s good to be reminded not to be fooled by this.
Charlie, your post has made me feel a whole lot better. Since I turned 65 a couple of weeks ago, I can totally empathize with your mother. Some things really are harder to do. But I’d never thought of viewing it as a challenge, I’d just slog on. With this change of perspective I feel quite rejuvenated. Many thanks!
Mandi @ Life Your Way says
What a beautiful illustration of an important life lesson!
There’s something about the way you write that soothes the soul and lowers the heart-rate, Charlie!
Great message in the post. If it’s not about the first step it’s about the next step, no matter how great or small.
Jonathan Browne says
I’d like to that beyond the goal of success, challenges are something to be desired in and of themselves.
It’s actually fun to take on a worthy challenge. If you can look at the challenges you have in life like you look at that level in the newest videogame that your addicted to conquering, then you’ll start to really take on your goals in a MASSIVE way.
Take a look at my blog for more insights.
Jonathan Browne says
Sorry about the fault link that was added automatically by the feed button below submit.
Become A Player – All the World is Your Stage is the correct link.
This is beautiful, Charlie. You are a wonderful son.
And some days, it’s not about climbing up the hill–some days, it’s OK to go sideways if you want to. The main point is not to stay in one place. Keep on moving, and periodically challenge ourselves. That’s what keeps life interesting. 🙂
Charlie: I “stumbled” into you a few weeks back, and have begun visiting to gather a few sprigs of wisdom and insight now and then. My mother just turned 90, and this piece reminds me of snowshoeing with her in Yosemite, many years ago now, but well into her 60s. Even now, we are fortunate that she has retained her health and mobility, although time has certainly slowed her gait. Having just hit 60 myself, I look to her as a model of meeting the challenges we encounter, head on, but at our own pace. As I approach retirement from my current challenges, I begin to look forward to where I will find my new ones. Not that life won’t give me some free of charge, but there are the ones we choose, and I want my retirement to include some purposefully chosen challenges to keep me climbing. Thank you for your thoughts, and my admiration to you as a younger man who seems to be extraordinarily in touch with “reality” for your years.