Chutes and Ladders

Do you remember the old children’s game, chutes and ladders? It’s a simple game, really. You flick a spinner and land on a number, move your little cardboard cutout that number of spaces, and see where you land. Most spots are neutral, and you simply wait there for your next turn. Other spaces are the start of a ladder. When you land one of them you taunt the other children you’re playing with and strut right up that ladder. Then there are the chutes. The “hard reality” aspect of the game. Land on the start to a chute and you slide all the way down. One chute in particular would take you from over halfway up the board to damn near the start. I hated that chute. It made me feel like I was starting the game over. That all my randomly spun numbers now amount to nothing. Great, I would think, now i’ll never win.

For some kids, the fun ended there. They would spend the rest of the game calling out how unfair it was, or just sit and pout with their arms folded and a scowl on their face. Other kids proved more resilient. After getting the pouts out from taking their little tumble, the resilient kids would reboot, reassess, look at the board again from their new position. When they do this they realize something. The longest ladder in the game. The one at the very beginning that very few ever get the privilege of climbing. That ladder is accessible again.

Sometimes the chutes we face in our life feel like setbacks. Until we realize that they are just the slide taking us back to where we need to be to climb higher. Your path might not be the one you would have chosen, but it’s yours all the same. When I was a kid I never dreamed i’d be a writer. I was too busy trying to figure out who I am to have the head space to know what I wanted to do. This mindset has led to a lot of chutes in my 37 years on this planet, but you know what? It has awoken me to the countless ladders laying before me as well.

So many of us have hit chute after chute, our shoulders slumping lower and lower as we see our friends climb the game board of life like they don’t have a care in the world. I implore you to remember how that game always tended to end. That one player, the one who sank to the bottom time and time again, would find their right series of ladders, spin the right sequence of numbers, and hit the top along with the rest of them. So, if you’ve hit a chute recently, don’t lose heart. Your ladder is coming.

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