“Teachers hold the ladder. Students climb”
It’s now-famous picture.
The cop and the shoeless guy on a cold night in New York. Snapped by a passerby and posted on the New York City police website, the picture went viral after it was reported that the cop bought the shoeless guy a pair of boots. To millions, it was a symbol of compassion.
Now comes word that the shoeless guy was seen again without shoes and may not even be homeless. At first glance, it may seem that that the officer’s selfless gesture, and his money, was wasted.
But if we take a second glance, we see more.
Showing compassion is like holding the ladder for someone. Ultimately, they have to climb, and climbing is hard work. Sometimes they’ll stop on the way up to take a break. Other times they’ll start climbing back down, unsure of where the next step will take them.
When we encounter someone else, we don’t know where they are on the ladder, no matter what their economic situation is. Over time, we may find that they quit climbing, or that they are struggling everyday to take that next step. But when we first meet them, we don’t know.
It’s at that moment when we can choose to hold the ladder or not. Holding the ladder won’t get the other person to the top, nor will it guarantee they will even want to climb. But without someone holding the ladder, it’s much more difficult for anyone to ascend at all.
To me, that officer’s – Larry DePrimo’s – gesture showed a man that was willing to help a stranger, no matter what the shoeless man’s – Jeffery Hillman’s – situation, or intention, was.
It’s a picture of a person holding a ladder for another person.
I hope it’s your picture.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Held a ladder for my girls by helping them study for (and pass) their yellow belt tests in martial arts, and held a ladder for my wife by doing the dishes. … Also made a small donation to SolesForSouls, a charity that pairs people with shoes.