Larry’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from my book, “How to Really Love the One You’re With.”
The Smith Street Society Jazz Band, the band of a musician friend (Bruce McNichols) from New York, is often asked to march in parades. After marching with the wind and the rain in their hair, in the snow and in the heat of summer, he and the band were weary of parades. The last parade they marched in was uphill most of the way. They were exhausted.
The band was called and once again asked to participate. When my friend complained about the parade route being mostly up hill the last time, the caller quickly added, “Don’t worry. This time most of the parade is downhill!”
My friend said, “What? Are you crazy? Downhill is hard, too! As a matter of fact it’s worse!”
We want our relationships to run smoothly. We want things to level off. Forget the ups and downs. Give us somewhere in the middle. The least effort we have to expend, the better. Someday we won’t have all of these problems and things will be easy. Give me a break! With this kind of attitude people will soon be saying, “Ha! Ha! You lose!”
His response made me think.
Climbing the mountain of life is difficult. The mountain of life has no top. Life is a continuous climb. There is no life of ease, no easy love relationship. You never get there. Sound hopeless? It is far from hopeless.
“You never get there” only means there is always something more to reach for, something past the looming precipice that you cannot yet see. Relationships must be consistently worked on and you must not quit climbing. This perilous quest is never easy and it is always worthy of your best efforts.
At first it may seem that quitting is the answer. If you have ever tried quitting, you may have discovered that it is more difficult to go back down the mountain than to continue the climb for several reasons. First of all, going back down takes you back to where you were before you began. There’s not much challenge in that.
The more steps you take in the right direction, the smarter you become about staying on the right path, the more skilled you become in developing strategies for the climb and the more you begin to enjoy the challenge of the adventure. As you continue to climb, so does your self-confidence. When you retreat, you lose ground; you have to start all over.
On your way up the mountain, you have already moved past some of life’s most troublesome obstacles, so keep your eye on the target. Keep moving up. Unless you want to experience the same obstacles again in reverse order, keep climbing.
I suppose the question is: “Since you have a choice, which would you prefer: to return to where you started before you began the climb or to keep climbing with the one you love? When you run into an obstacle and when love is still present, should you quit or keep working on the relationship?”
Downhill is hard, too! The rewards of a continued climb far surpass the steps you may be tempted to take in the wrong direction.
“But the climb is too hard! I’m not sure how long I can continue.”
It will be difficult if you continue and perhaps more difficult if you stop. You experience one set of circumstances when you move ahead and another set of circumstances when you quit. There is often pain in either choice. The choice that brings you the most pleasure may not always be the best choice. You must weigh the benefits of your choices. That is the way love relationships work. Love takes work. It takes lots and lots of work.
If you think that “someday” you will conquer the mountain; someday you will live “happily ever after,” you are in for a big surprise. Someday is now! “Happily ever after” is the same as tomorrow – it never comes. This is it! Live happiness now.
That certainly does not mean you should give up. The climb is never easy. It takes consistent effort; a concept of team. Climbing as a team is a better idea. Working together is a must. There are no shortcuts to the top of a mountain that has no top.
If your love partner is not assisting the two of you in the climb, nothing you can do can change that. For them, changing is a personal decision. You cannot push a rope up the mountain. Keep climbing, alone if you must, but continue the climb. There is something new and exciting up there just for you, too! There are many important life and relationship lessons for you to discover on your quest for the summit.
Doesn’t it make sense to push forward and continue to experience new and exciting things rather than continue to wallow in the past and be disappointed again by the same old stuff?
Although fear and risk may appear as obstacles to overcome along the way, the end result is a benefit worthy of accomplishment. I’ve had it with the past! Except to learn from, the past is useless. The future is now!
Your love relationship is either in a state of continual becoming – a steady, yet rugged climb to the top of the mountain; at a checkpoint, resting – a place where you take a breather, a place where you self-inquire, and where you take stock of the relationship together to determine what needs to be done to continue the climb, or your relationship is in a state of giving up – a place where you start back down the mountain, a task that may be more difficult than the climb itself.
Plot your course. Study the mountain.
Develop a team strategy. Team can conquer the mountain. The goal is a healthy love relationship anchored in unconditional love. The interesting thing is, you find love along the way. It is not something you must wait for. Love is now. It is your choice.
When love partners make a mutual decision to do what some might call an impossible thing, the chances of doing it more than double. Your energy is focused. The risk of failing decreases when you find solutions, make decisions together and get into action, or to coin a phrase, “continue the climb.” All your energy is on the side of doing.
As you climb, occasionally find a ledge cozy enough for the two of you to rest, re-create and celebrate love. Take time to celebrate your successes. Then regroup and begin climbing again.
Relationships are simple. Not easy… simple. Remember the “Golden Rule!”
Uphill is hard.
Downhill is hard, too!
Larry’s Update: My dear friend, Bruce McNichols (1939 – 2012), died unexpectedly on February 16, 2012. We both served our great Nation together – he in the Army and me in the Navy on Adak Island, Alaska in 1957. Bruce McNichols: Banjo, Soprano Sax & Vocals, Band Leader, has performed in Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, Newport Jazz Festival, Breda (Holland) Jazz Festival, major motion pictures (for Dino DiLaurentis and for MGM), the Woody Allen Jazz Band, and opened for Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Peggy Lee, Al Hirt, Rodney Dangerfield and Cab Calloway, played sold-out concerts from El Paso to New York and on the Tonight Show with actor/singer/banjo player George Segal. RIP Bruce McNichols, you were among the best human beings on the planet and I was honored to have known you.
Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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