The Ladder

The story goes that
When you are young
You must search for the ladder

Your education is first geared
To find the bottom rung
When you graduate, cap and gown
Thrown asunder, clutching a piece of paper
That says you now hold the key
To take the first step

The first step is not the hardest here
You run towards it, a little afraid
But it feels like you have finally
Found a clue to what
Will keep you busy
For a long time in your life

Now you are part of the ladder
And as you start the climb
There are so many goals to reach
You now meet the others
The race begins

Who will climb the highest
Who will climb the fastest
Who was the youngest
Who was most promising
Who was the smartest

So many superlatives
So many opinions, perceptions
And marked preferences
Tagged, and you are it

Some will lose hope with the climb
Content to stay on the middle rung
Some will rise with each step up
As the atmosphere thins
The perks, first class
A corner office
A coveted parking spot

The ladder holds them in its thrall
And identity is found in a business card
But stories always have a twist
The harder you hold on
The longer you stay
The more you enjoy us vs them
The less time you have to
Contemplate your descent

Unless you found a way
And you understood
That a ladder is one way
Only when propped up
But placed flat on the ground
It shifts from Me to We
It encourages connection
It becomes a path
It becomes a bridge

— Shaku Selvakumar March 2013

Fish in the City
Fish in the City

6 thoughts on “The Ladder

  1. Shaku – very well written. Thanks for sharing your talent with us. I see it as less of a ladder and more of a jungle gym where you weave your own way. Love the ladder to bridge metaphor as well.

    1. Thank you! I like the jungle gym analogy too. I find that innovation and creativity can thrive and be more effectively harnessed when walls and hierarchy are broken down.

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