Day 14: The uplands.

Dear friends,


A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to an essay that caught my attention today. Called “The Paradoxical Traits of Resilient People,” it suggests that  embracing adversity is the best way to manage it.

What caught my eye — and filled my heart — was a quote from Helen Keller:

“For, after all, every one who wishes to gain true knowledge must climb the Hill of Difficulty alone, and since there is no royal road to the summit, I must zigzag it in my own way. I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better, I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory. One more effort and I reach the luminous cloud, the blue depths of the sky, the uplands of my desire.”

It’s hard to imagine a woman who was deaf and blind and who struggled so mightily could learn to produce such exquisite prose. Adversity certainly burnished the bright edge of Keller’s capacity and she became a role model for the ages. (If you don’t know much about Keller’s life, I encourage you to do a bit more reading. She became a staunch advocate for women and birth control, the disabled, the working class and oppressed people everywhere.)

So on the 14th day of this month of Thanksgiving, I pause to reflect on my struggles . . . one more effort . . . and the inestimable reaches of all that I seek  . . . the luminous cloud, the blue depths of the sky . . . and vow, today and tomorrow, to footslog my way, step by frail misstep, ever higher to the uplands.

With gratitude {for people with the clearest vision, those who see the expansive vista of human potential},

Joan, who in high school played the Anne Sullivan to her friend Gretchen’s Helen Keller in a medal-winning dramatic duet that first piqued her interest in this remarkable American woman



  1. Timely advice for a day begun struggling to emerge from the day prior’s emotionally negative draping. Life simply won’t travel in straight lines…

  2. The uplands — what a beautiful metaphor. I’ve detoured around the Hill of Difficulty many times, usually with some excuse like the wrong shoes or not enough daylight or “the flatlands are fine.”

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