Reach for the Sky, Pilgrim!


Like my own kids, all of my grandchildren have certain habits or characteristics that make each one of them unique and special. And my most recent grandchild has one that I’ve never seen before in any of the others.

The child is absolutely fascinated by things over his head, objects that are often just beyond his reach, such as the excess chain hanging from a porch swing, the whirling blades of a ceiling fan, or simply the leaves on a tree.

The child longingly stretches his arms as far as they will go to reach for these objects. And if there is somewhere to gain a foothold, he even tries to climb up to get them, apparently having no fear or realization that his attempts are also a danger to his own life and limb. Moreover, nothing appears to make him happier than when you give him a boost in able to help him to grab one of them.

Despite the obstacles he faces of both height and reach, the child will not be deterred. He fails to acknowledge or accept his obvious physical limitations.

There is seemingly nothing that will restrain him. ​​The more I watched him from

day to day, and the more I thought about it, the more extraordinary it became

to me.

And to be honest, something in his behavior also reminded me a little bit of me.

For much of my life, I have been trying to reach for things that were often just

beyond my grasp.

I guess I like beating the odds.

When I started trying to write, a number of people told me that I would never be able to complete a readable manuscript. After I wrote several manuscripts, others told me I would never get any of them published. After they were finally published, a few people told me that I would never develop enough of a following to make a living from my craft.

Well, that last one I haven’t quite yet reached myself.

But like my grandson, I keep trying.

​And like my grandson, Americans used to always be reaching for the seemingly unattainable.

For over two hundred years, the people of this nation, and those who first settled here, have reached for those things which were often beyond the grasp of others.

Thanks to our godly Christian heritage (And, yes, we really did have one of those!), our nation was blessed, making it possible for our people to succeed against nearly insurmountable odds and often to reach heights that were relatively-unknown to those who lived previously on other shores.

When our forebears longed to have the freedom of worship, we braved the dark and treacherous seas to find a land where we could fully realize those longings.

When we wanted a better life for ourselves and our children, we forged our way across a rugged and unforgiving continent.

Sometimes their reach exceeded their grasp. Some of them failed to find those things they were seeking. Many of them died in the attempt.

A lot of them succeeded.

But it was their successes that inspired others to keep trying.

When the French failed miserably in their attempts to build the Panama Canal, the Americans succeeded. And then, we took the abandoned French equipment, melted it down, and made medallions to wear around the necks of our workers

The United States became known as a land of explorers, pioneers, and risk takers, people who pursued their dreams

We even reached out to touch the darkest reaches of space and to ultimately place our feet on the surface of the Moon.

Our president once called upon us to do that.

Once again, a number of us died in the attempt.

But we eventually succeeded

At one time, Americans were all like that.

A number of our people realized vast, untold, and enormous wealth because they were not afraid of failing in their attempts to reach something more.

And we used to applaud that in America. We celebrated it. We attempted to recreate those successes in our own lives.

The American dream, we called it.

And we believed the United States was a land where it was all possible.

Our presidents once said things like: “Ask not what your country can do for you.”

Now we have presidential candidates demanding free college tuition.

Fortunately, my grandchild has learned none of that yet.

He still believes it is fully possible to reach those far-away and desired

things all by himself. (And maybe, with just a bit of help from Pappy.)

In much the same way I treasure that quality about America, I also

value that characteristic about him.

Instinctively, he believes nothing is unattainable. And I think that is a

good way to be.

This is still America. Dreams still happen. Goals can be reached. Success

is often only limited by our desire to work and reach for it.

So, if you happen to run across my grandchild, I ask only one thing of you:

Please don’t tell him anything different.

The Medal of Honor

​​​​R.G. YOHO

Author, Writer, Speaker

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