…We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.
The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.
The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise.
The heights by great men reached and keptFrom: The Ladder of St. Augustine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
The poem, The Ladder of St. Augustine, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is a reminder that nothing happens before it’s time. The old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, applies to all of us as we traverse this life. However, once a goal or dream is achieved, it will remain in the minds, hearts and eyes of those who experience it directly or indirectly. It also reminds us of our humanity. The fact that we can only operate within the limits of our capabilities and not vicariously through others. further, each person will reach their destination at different times and such a destination may be in different locales, some higher than others.
Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern — unseen before —
A path to higher destinies,
Nor deem the irrevocable Past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.
This very motivational poem also reminds us of the need to move on from the wrecks which impede us on our journey. Instead of being buried under the rubble we must stand on them; make them our stepping stones when the path is covered by the landmines we are aware of and those we are not. To see the past, not as something to be ashamed of, but something that has provided us with the tools that we need, to navigate the uncertainty of the present and possibilities of the future.