There’s a misperception in America that if you manage to get yourself on an upward trajectory in life, you will continue forever moving in an upward direction, much like the misperception about money. In actuality, only a select few get to have this experience and while some manage to actually “succeed” upward, some have the greater fortune of actually “failing” upward.


I’ve always held the belief that if I worked hard, (mostly) played by the rules, respected others while maintaining my integrity, and kept an open mind with regard to learning and understanding, I would always be on an upward trajectory. One step up, followed by another, and another as if the staircase or the trail in front of me were infinite and always sloping upwards. The belief was so ingrained I didn’t even realize I held it until I reached a summit one day and realized there was a “down side”.

Standing at the summit for (seemingly) the first time, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the realization that there’s nowhere to go but down. But wait, how did this happen? I thought I did everything right. How could I have failed? How is it even possible for ‘down’ to exist in my world when I’ve always been ‘Movin’ on up’ ? At this point it becomes apparent I have two choices: stand there and question (argue with) the universe, throw a temper tantrum and stomp my feet in utter denial of the existence of down, or take a step forward and see what happens.

How is it even possible for ‘down’ to exist in my world when I’ve always been ‘Movin’ on up’ ?

It’s a little surreal at first, but once the inevitability sinks in a little and I find my downhill stride, my anxiety subsides and my mind becomes much clearer. It doesn’t take long to realize how undemanding it feels compared to the eternal upward climb, and how much more detail I notice at this leisurely pace – important things that evaded me completely on the ascent. A sense of urgency I didn’t even realize I had, is replaced by an almost complete sense of calm. I’m not in a hurry to achieve anything remarkable and in many ways I feel completely detached from that former upwardly mobile self.

Looking ahead along the path in front of me I see mountains in the distance, which I will climb when I reach them, but for now I’ve accepted that the downhill descent was part of the plan all along, and my only task right now is to relax and enjoy it.  ✻