I once read this story about these monkeys. (Yes, monkeys…bear with me, this is going somewhere.)
So these monkeys were put in a room with a bunch of bananas tied to the top of a tall pole. And the monkeys did, what monkeys do. What it is in their nature to do. They tried to climb high… and get the bananas. But every time one of them would start to climb too high, the experimenters would spray them with a fire hose to knock them back down again. Over and over, one by one this went on, until every single monkey in the room had learned that there was just no point in trying to climb. To reach for something more, something that was just beyond their grasp. Because every time, they knew without fail that they would just be knocked down again.
At a certain point, the experimenters decided to remove the fire hose from the equation. Every day, they would hang up a brand new ripe, yellow bunch of bananas at the top of the pole. And every day, the monkeys would just sit at the bottom not even trying to reach for them. Even though there was no longer any danger of them being knocked down. But they had already learned that there was just no point in trying.
Occasionally, one of the monkeys would forget what they had all been taught and would start to climb. The fire hose wasn’t there anymore, so just a few steps up and he would have reached them. But now it was the other monkeys, not the fire hose, who were knocking him down. When they saw someone trying to break the rules that they had all learned too well, they would shake the pole, grab him by the feet and drag him back down to where he belonged.
Here’s where the story starts to get really interesting.
One by one, the experimenters started to replace the original monkeys with new members. And every time that new member, never having seen the fire hose or having had the experience of being knocked down, would immediately set out to do what was in his nature to do. To climb higher. To reach for more. And every time without fail, he would be dragged back down. Not by a fire hose mind you, but by the other members in the room. Because they had already learned that there was no point in reaching for anything higher. They had already learned there was a limit to what they could all do. And they just wanted to make sure this new member knew his place as well.
The experiment went on until there were no members from the original trial left. Or from the second group. Or the third. Several generations in still each time a new member was introduced to the group, he was knocked down. Even though no one in the room even knew anymore what the original danger (the fire hose) had been. Or that it had been long since removed. That all that time had been wasted, and at any day they could have been enjoying the prize. Together. If they would have just stopped tearing each other down. All they knew was this: I have been told and I believed it when they said I couldn’t climb any higher.
Therefore, I don’t think anyone else should be able to either.
It’s funny, that sometimes we’re not as different as we might hope we would be.
Last week, my good friend Spring received one of the harshest, ugliest comments I’ve seen in a long time. All because she dared to utter a dream. And if the parallels haven’t been drawn yet, it was signed under the anonymous name everyone. That “everyone” wanted to drag her down for even thinking of climbing higher. It was supposedly done for our benefit, complimentary to Justin & I while cutting her apart. But the thing is, none of us benefits when any one of us is dragged down. So “everyone” if you’re reading this, please don’t ever do that to someone in my name again.
You guys, we have to stop tearing each other down if we ever want to move forward. We have to see other people climbing higher, not as a threat to us but as a road that is being paved. One that will make our way easier. We have to see how much is being wasted while we’re fighting so hard to keep others in their place. We have to stop getting so brave behind our computer screens just because we are hurting in real life.
It’s in our nature to go higher. To try harder. To reach for more. Everyone, I know that you’ve been knocked down a lot lately.
But the time has come to climb.