Last Wonderful Wednesday we started a series on wonderful words from others. Today we are continuing that series with my favorite poem from my favorite poet of all time: Langston Hughes.
I was first introduced to Langston Hughes when I was a child of ten or eleven. My father had a set of books about this guy named Simple that were written by Langston Hughes. The stories were interesting, folksy and interestingly political. When I saw a book of poems by the same author got my attention and I began reading them and could not stop. Thirty years later, I cannot resist an Langston Hughes poem. My favorite of them all is "Crystal Stair."
Mother to SonWell, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,And splinters,And boards torn up,And places with no carpet on the floor—Bare.But all the timeI'se been a-climbin' on,And reachin' landin's,And turnin' corners,And sometimes goin' in the darkWhere 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.
As a child when I read that poem I was hopeful. I thought no matter how bad things get, you have to keep pushing and walking, pushing and walking. It seemed to me there was no excuse for quitting. I realized that life was hard. You could not be a little girl growing up in West Philadelphia when I did and not have an understanding that life was hard some times. At the same time, I still had hope that I could end up some place like Bryn Mawr, and I did.
Today people often say "Rise and Grind" or "Get ready." I never use those two phrases. In my world, you do not rise and grind, you grind from where you are and don't stop. I don't believe the proper course of action is to get ready for battle. To the contrary, I believe you stay ready. The "Mother to Son" poem taught me that sometimes things are rough, but you suck it up, put on your big girl panties and keep climbing. There is no reason to stop climbing until you reach the goal you have set.
Recently I heard a song with lyrics
When times get hard I go harder . . .
My mama ain't raise no sucker
I ain't scared of no struggle,
Stic.man "Let it Burn"
The song is about working out, but I saw a tribute to Langston Hughes' "Crystal Stair." In my mind, it is a mother's job to teach her children to keep moving, keep climbing no matter how hard things get. She should teach this with her words and with her actions. I have always tried to do that with my children. I definitely did not raise them to be suckers and none of them are afraid of struggle. I am still climbing and will never stop.
Life is hard sometime and there is sometimes struggle that takes place. So the question for you this Wonderful Wednesday is what words are you using to inspire you to continue on no matter how hard the journey?