A Lot to Learn

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. Maya Angelou

When traveling in Stockholm last year, we crossed an elevated walkway out to the Katarina Elevator at sunset. It felt like we were walking a plank high above the city. Gave us a great view, but a bit unsettling. Padlocks lined the fence and reflected the setting sun so they captured my attention, but I had no idea what they meant. I later learned they are “love locks.” Couples lock them in place to symbolize their unbreakable love and then throw away the key.

Sounds romantic, right? But things aren’t always as they seem. And if I’ve learned anything in these past few weeks following the death of George Floyd and the resulting demonstrations, it’s that we need to challenge ourselves to go deeper. As Maya Angelou reminds us, we have to learn that we still have a lot to learn. 

Apparently a common tradition, love locks adorn bridges around Europe, but not always with a happy ending. In some places, the number of locks left have been so large that bridge cables sagged and the structural safety of the bridge became compromised. In Stockholm, the fence that this love lock is on is there to prevent people from jumping to their death.

What a backdrop for unbreakable love. After 18 years of marriage, I can say that love is definitely messy and sometimes painful. If Paul and I had stayed fixed in our view of what love/marriage “should be,” then one of us might have hunted down the key to get out. Or maybe even wanted to jump. But because we’ve generally approached it all with the growth mindset expressed by Angelou of knowing that we still have more to learn, we’re still here, sometimes struggling and definitely still discovering. 

That seems an apt parallel to how I’m feeling about what’s happening in the world around us right now. As an educated white woman, I thought I had a good understanding of the injustices suffered by people of color. But that’s probably similar to what my idea of marriage was when I was a girl “getting married” on the elementary school playground. I’ll never truly know those injustices because I don’t live them, but I now know that I need to learn more.

We’re struggling as a nation and it’s messy right now. Let’s respond by staying in a growth mindset willing to listen, learn, and change.