Erasing Chalk Marks

My gym teacher had a thing for jumping.

We’d do standing jumps against this brick wall and he’d chalk the point where our extended fingers reached.

We’d each jump and try to get just a little bit higher than the last white line.

Inch-by-inch, the chalk marks would rise.

The marks encouraged us, gave us a goal, and showed us how we compared to each other.

But they also limited us.

You could tell he was the new kid the moment he jumped. As he launched up, he placed his right foot against the wall and shot up another 12 inches. The gym teacher couldn’t even reach with the chalk.

Was the new guy supposed to jump like that? No. But he did show us that while those chalk marks had encouraged us, they’d also held us back. They kept us jumping the same way and limited our progression to a few inches.

When he jumped, he had, in effect, erased the chalk marks. He’d shown us how to reach higher.

In life, there are chalk marks. Standards and benchmarks that are implemented to encourage and inspire. But, unlike gym class, there is no single way to jump. No one right way and no prohibition on jumping off the wall.

So erase the chalk marks. And learn to jump again.

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