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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Teach Yourself not to Fall?

By Latiefa Achmat

I was at the park recently and I was watching a caring mother with her little child looking at the ducks swimming around a large pond. There was a metal fence around the pond that had a bar running along the bottom, which was perfect for little feet to climb up onto to see clearly over the top of the fence. As I expected, the little feet did climb up and the little face was glowing with joy at being able to see the ducks, until a loud booming voice called out, "Get down! Quick! You'll fall!" The shock of the tone of voice startled the child, and she fell. The mother said, "See, I told you!" I wondered how many young people today had similar experiences when growing up.
Some parents are so afraid for their kids that they do not want any kind of harm or difficulty to touch them, to the point that the child becomes nervous and afraid to do anything new. Imagine a child who grows up like that and takes the fear and uncertainty into the teenage years and adult life.
Is this you? Have your parents or your schooling or life in general taught you to be afraid of falling? If it has, then chances are you are also afraid to climb, based on the assumption that you might fall. So it may seem better to stay where you are; to stay safe.
I wonder what would have happened if the great thinkers of the world, the great social reformers, the great artists, and the great inventors thought like that? By the way, most of these now famous people were not recognized or respected until after they were dead. While living they were just like you and me - except that people might have considered them to be a little eccentric.
One thing they all had in common, though, was that they were not afraid to take the leap - to take a chance and dare to be different, dare to try something better, and stand firm in their beliefs, regardless of what people said. What do people usually say? "You'll never do it!" "May as well quit now while you're ahead," or, "Who do you think you are?"
Most people do not like change, in fact, they fear it. But deep inside they wish they could change and reach for something better. So when such people see someone willing to take the chance and reach for the sky, they become skeptical and scorn all such efforts. All this is driven by their own inability and fear.
Maybe the mother who was afraid her child would fall was inwardly referring to her own insecurities rather than the possibility of the child being hurt. Wouldn't it be so much better, and so much healthier to teach yourself to get up when you fall rather than live in fear that you might?
We learn much more from our mistakes than from our successes, so what is the wisdom in trying to teach yourself not to make any mistakes? If we can roll with the punches that life deals out to us, if we can pick up the pieces after being defeated and move forward, and if we can get up and shake off the dust if we fall or fail, then ultimately we'll be better, stronger, and wiser people. And the taller we grow (spiritually), the more we will see, just like that little child who could see so much more clearly when he took the chance to climb up on the bar of the fence.

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