Do you remember back in gym class, when the dreaded section on "The Rope" started? I hated it. Essentially, in case you were spared this torture, a long rope was suspended from the ceiling of the gymnasium, approximately 25 feet in height/length, although, to me, it looked like about a hundred feet! This rope sometimes had knots in it, and sometimes it did not. The point of the exercise was to send each student to climb the rope, one at a time, while his or her peers watched. Because the rope was suspended in the middle of the room, there was nothing to use for leverage, other than the child's arms and his or her own upper body strength.
When I was a young student, we had to climb up the length of the rope and touch the ceiling I-beam. Once we could do it, we didn't have to do it again. Unfortunately, I never reached the top. However, the memory of the climbing rope has far outlasted anything else I remember from gym class.
As I have pondered some things recently about life, the recollection of the climbing rope again has entered my mind. I read recently (on a social networking site I believe) a 'meme' that said when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. I thought about that for awhile, and then another contact commented (at another time) how she didn't want to hang on to the rope anymore, she wanted to let go. And one of her contacts responded, "Well, then let it go." What wise words.
In the climbing rope exercise, you can only hang on for so long. If you hang on too long, your arms and hands and body are likely to lose their grip, and you run the risk of a terrible fall. However, by choosing to let go, you can often pick where and how you land. With the climbing rope, I discovered that the best course of action was to move as quickly as possible. The slower I advanced, the shorter the height I was able to travel. However, there comes a point when you do have to stop and catch your breath and hang on for a minute. Then, you can continue the ascent. But, if you stop for too long, you will find that you can't go on anymore.
So too, I think, is life. When we start into our daily lives, we are often thrown trials and challenges that we must overcome. It is best to face these head on and push on through them. However, some of our trials and challenges may be more than we can stand at once. Sometimes, the challenge or trial is a long drawn out affair. We set in to work through it, but find that partway through, we are tired and worn out. We may feel defeated and beat down. So we stop and hold on for a minute. Sometimes, that breather is all we need to build up our resolve and strength and soldier on again. But sometimes, we truly do need to just choose our landing spot and let go of the rope. It's hard, and it sometimes feels like we are giving up. But letting go of the rope allows us time to regroup. It allows us time to re-examine the trial. It allows us to step back and look at the bigger picture, and see if there is another way to attack the challenge. And sometimes, when we let go and step back, we find that that particular rope isn't the one that we have to climb. Oh what freedom! Sometimes, letting go of the rope, is the only way we can ever climb it. Sometimes, we cannot solve the challenge or trial, until we step back and re-evaluate it. And sometimes, the challenge that we think is ours to beat, actually doesn't have to be fought by us, or maybe it doesn't have to be fought alone, or maybe the challenge doesn't really exist, we just think it does. Picking our landing spot and letting go, gives us the chance to step back and decide how best to proceed.
And so I say, when you get to the end of your rope, go ahead, tie a knot and hang on. But, if your arms begin to ache, and you can't hold on any longer, look around, choose your landing, and just let it go.