The Quest for Answers and Security

Mother to Son
by: Langston Hughes

Well, 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 time
I’se been a-climbin‘ on,
And reachinlandin’s,
And turnin‘ corners,
And sometimes goin‘ in the dark
Where 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.


When my father passed away, he had a conversation with my mother where he told her that he did not feel he had the wisdom that usually comes with being 60 years old. Honestly, I think that this statement shows that he did have the wisdom. I think that dad had learned that there are no answers or templates for success. There is no permanent security to be found in life either through wealth, people, or things. The one thing that is guaranteed about life is it’s ever changing nature. Dad was wise, but he did not know it because it was not the type of wisdom he was searching for all of his life. Life “ain’t been no crystal stair” for him, but he just kept climbing. The reward is not necessarily answers or wisdom, but adventures and experiences.

In my own life, I have found myself constantly searching for some type of security and answers in this world. I have looked for it in jobs, houses, bank accounts, and people. What have I learned? Jobs come and go, and the atmosphere can change with just a different administrator or co-worker. Houses are just temporary dwellings. In fact, there is nothing that we own that can’t be taken away from us in minutes with a match or a natural disaster. We need to look no further than September 11th to prove this fact. At one point in my life I thought I had found the house I would grow old in, then I moved to Oregon. Ahh, change. I also learned that money is a very fluid thing because it comes and it goes. Finally, I have tried to find security in people, but have at times been disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very loyal people out there that you can trust and believe. Of course, I have also met those people who aren’t worthy of trust and sell their friends out with the blink of an eye. I would like to think that when I meet a person now I am able to better judge their character, but then maybe that is just me trying to find security in my judgment.

I have even tried to find security through education and degrees. Did I tell you that I have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, tons of experience, and that I’m still looking for a job?

Where does one find security and answers? I don’t know. I have some suggestions that work for my life, but they may not be the right answers. I have listed them below:

1. Faith in yourself. I know that I can’t control change, but I can control my responses to it. At this point, I believe that I can handle anything that comes my way in life. There were a couple of points in my life when I stared into the abyss, and I was able to turn around and walk back into the land of the living. I have faith that if I end up looking into that darkness again, I will be able to turn around and work my way back to the light.

2. Religion. Some people, including me, find security in their religion. It works for me to believe that there is someone in charge over this seemingly constant and random change.

3. Adventure. Look at life as a huge adventure with no real winning or losing. Life is about the people you meet, the things you do, and the places you go. It is about getting out there and exploring, learning, and growing. Life will throw you change and adventure every time you turn around, so embrace it and enjoy the ride.

4. Appreciation. Appreciate what you have in life when you have it. This includes people, money, jobs, and houses. You may not have them forever, so enjoy the time that you do have with them. This is still one of my hardest things to do in life. I sometime have such a fear of losing someone or something that I don’t enjoy them in the present.

Life “ain’t been no crystal stair” for anyone, but the wise ones just keep climbing. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, or how devoted your friends are, life can still be hard and challenging. The only thing we can control is our reaction to it. I don’t have the answers. Check in with me when I turn 75 and maybe I will have the answers to life and understand the source of security, but I rather doubt it.

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3 Comments

Filed under Human Nature

3 responses to “The Quest for Answers and Security

  1. Wow, what a great post!

  2. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Wonderful post, Mike. I love Langston Hughes, and I love how you translated the poem into a look at your life. Good luck with finding work. It’s terrible to have all that education and not have it make a difference when you’re in need of gainful employment. Peace – D