It’s been about 20 years since I’ve had to worry about homework. I thought by this point in my life I was free and clear.
A few weeks ago, my 11 year old’s teacher gave her class a homework assignment… that had to be completed by the parents!
The homework was to read the poem “Mother To Son” by Langston Hughes together, discuss it and then the parents had to write a poem in response.
So that’s what we did.
No word on what kind of grade I got on my poem yet, but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. And, no big surprise, while it was written for my daughter, it is VERY relevant to entrepreneurs.
In the interest of doing something completely different in this newsletter, I decided to share it with all of you.
First, so you have the context for it, here’s Langston Hughes’ poem, Mother To Son:
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So, boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps.
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
Here’s my response. I’m no Langston Hughes for sure, but hope you enjoy!
The Crystal Stair
I tried to climb a crystal stair once.
And, you know what?
It ain’t that hard. Kinda boring actually.
You know what stairs are better to climb?
The beat up, creaky ones with missing steps, no railing and heaping piles of garbage blocking your path.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. And you’ll want to turn back along the way.
But, if you stick with it.
Oh, if you stick with it,you’ll climb to heights people on the crystal stair can’t even fathom.
Now part of me would love to give you an elevator that goes straight to the top of that crystal stair.
An elevator that protects you.
Keeps you safe.
Guarantees you’ll make it to the top.
But I know that wouldn’t be fair… to you.
It would rob you of seeing for yourself all that you’re truly made of.
Of facing the challenges, problems and setbacks along the way.
And of experiencing the sweet satisfaction of kicking them in the teeth while you keep on moving higher and higher.
The elevator would rob you of seeing for yourself what you’re truly capable of.
And of realizing the massive potential I see every time I look at you.
So let others try to climb the crystal stair.
The truth is they don’t go that high.
You’re better than that.
You’re up for the challenge.
And you’re going to be so much stronger when you reach the top.
I tried to climb a crystal stair.
But I found the people on the crystal stair never accomplish much.
That’s why I only tried to climb it… once.