Friday, September 11, 2009


It's hard to tell, but this is a picture of a fairly steep hill. If you squint, you can see A.J. down at the bottom by the sign for the park.

About ten years ago, I rode my bike as fast as I could down this hill. It was exciting, exhilarating, and before I knew it, I was at the bottom where the street curves to the left. My turn couldn't quite keep up with the street's curve and I hit the curb and did a spectacular (and painful for days after) dive into the grass.

In the years since that crash, here's the lesson about life that I've learned: as much fun as those downhill-out-of-control times seem at the time, I am not at my best during them. Those are reckless times that result in either a crash or a near miss.

I have come to value the uphill climbs in life. Those are the times that challenge me to do my best. On the uphill climb, I have to work hard and smart and efficiently. I'm going slowly enough to pay attention to my surroundings on the uphill climb, and my tires stick to the road with traction -- I am grounded. On the uphill climb, I use all my gears -- I am willing to take all the help I can get.

Teaching is an uphill climb. It's incredibly hard work every single day, but I value the challenges that each new class brings through my door. At this point in the year, I am careful to glance only briefly and occasionally at the mountain ahead. Instead, I am deeply involved in learning about the pack of travelers that I'm leading up that mountain, and trying to find ways for us all to climb at our own rates and yet somehow stay together.

Based on the minute amount of time that I spend listening to mainstream FM radio, I have to believe that this song was sent to me: Miley Cyrus singing "The Climb." If this song hadn't been intentionally laid in my path, there's no way I'd be sharing these lyrics with you today. That's a little miracle that we can ponder another time. You can listen to the song here, but I encourage you to listen with your eyes closed so that you can think about what the words mean to you.

from "The Climb"

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

The Poetry Friday round up this week is at Wild Rose Reader.


  1. What a wonderful post. It certainly made me think. I will be appreciating my uphill journeys in a new way.

  2. What a thoughful, reflective post. It is really fun to read the lyrics of a song rather than to listen to them.

  3. Amazing! You always write what I need when I need it.I love the song(even though it's Hanna Montanaish). Powerful message. Like you, when things are spiraling out of control, I'm not focused on goals. It's survival mode. The uphill climb is my methodical, watch the view time where I focus on my next step.

  4. I loved this song when it came out because the lyrics spoke to me in such a way that made me really pull apart the words and think about their meaning. Boy was I surprised to find out later that it was Miley Cyrus! Great Post!

  5. Love hearing your thoughts! Wonderful dose of inspiration; what a nice surprise to find it in a Miley song :).

  6. Thanks, Mary Lee, for a wonder Poetry Friday post. And how true it is!

    BTW, are you going to NCTE in Philadelphia in November?

  7. I just read this blog and it is so appropriate to how I have been feeling lately at school but I think I wasn't appreciating the uphill aspect, thank you for putting this in perspective for me and reminding me - just what I needed!


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