"Let's sit on this one," said Hobbes.
Calvin demurred, "Are you kidding? This is only the first branch! Let's climb higher."
"I don't know. The next one is pretty far up and some of them look dead. They could break."
"What are you, a sissy?" Calvin was already reaching for the next branch. "It's a metaphor for life, Hobbes. It's always about reaching for the next branch. Even when it's too far you have to keep going anyway. Because if you keep trying (gimme a boost, will you?) and never give up (almost there) no matter how hard it seems (just a bit farther)--you'll--make it!" With a puff, he heaved himself on top of the bough.
"See?" he panted. "Just--a matter--of persistence. But there's never any time to rest. Because if you stop moving to pat yourself on the back, you'll fall behind."
"Falling," Hobbes observed wisely, glancing downward, "does come to mind, yes."
"Sometimes it's easy," Calvin went on, stepping lightly up a series of small branches. "Sometimes you have to take--risks." He jumped, landing roughly on the next branch. "You have to make your way carefully, but you can't spend too much time making decisions. Sometimes it's obvious which way to go if you just have the sense to see it." He stepped to a lower branch to better reach a higher one. He pulled himself up with ease.
He paused to eye the next branch. It grew no leaves and the bark was crusty and brittle, crumbling away in segments.
"It looks dead," Hobbes warned. "It might be dangerous."
"Life can be dangerous," said Calvin. "You just have to accept that. Caution is necessary but you can't waste time with it. And even when the risks are there"--he set a foot gingerly upon the decayed limb--"you can't stop. You just have to be brave."
He put his full weight on the branch.
"You have to think fast--"
"And move faster."
Calvin sprang to a firmer branch higher up.
The dead limb snapped and plummeted to earth.
"As long as you know the risks, you can usually avoid them," Calvin went on, gazing down at the fate that had nearly been his. "But the important thing is to move forward with the confidence to face whatever comes your way."
Suddenly there came a sound from somewhere nearby. Something large was moving through the undergrowth of the forest below.
"What is that?" said Calvin.
"Whatever it is," said Hobbes, "it's big."
"Do you think it's a bear?"
A high, shrill voice rang in the air. "Calvin!"
"What a relief!" Hobbes gasped. "It's not a bear, it's just your Mom."
"That's worse," I moaned.
She emerged into the clearing beneath the tree and peered up into the tree. "Calvin! What are you doing? I don't want you up that tree."
"Why not?" Calvin protested.
"Some of the branches are dead and they might break. Come on down."
"I told you," said Hobbes with a prideful raspberry.
His mother marched the pair home, leaving them to find other entertainment. A ladder in the garage suited their inclinations. When they erected it in the yard and perched atop it, however, they were doomed to disappointment.
"Pathetic," Calvin griped. "It's like sitting on a highchair."
"I admit," said Hobbes, "this isn't quite the same, is it?"
Calvin said bitterly, "Some people find confidence in running at the slightest sign of danger."
"At least we won't fall and break our necks."
Calvin wasn't listening as he became absorbed in examining the ladder. "Does this unfold into one long, straight ladder?"
Hobbes looked. "I think so. Why?"
A wide smile came across Calvin's lips. He pointed toward his house and the roof above it. "I think I see new heights waiting for us, Hobbes ol' buddy."
Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith