(CCSLQ-12) Monkey Bars

This is part of an occasional series (currently it’s weekly) exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series. 


Monkey Bars“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars—let go to move forward.”

Motivational quotations are (as the saying goes) “a dime a dozen.” You can find them just about everywhere. However, their value seems to be greater when credited to famous individuals.

This is the only reason I can come up with to explain why the above quote is credited to Lewis. Several books published within the last five years lists the source as “Unknown.” But it is more common to find Lewis’s name attached to it. However, none of his published works ever uses the expression “monkey bars.” This is significant. Why? That’s because according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary that term only came into use in 1955 (I’ve also seen 1950 mentioned elsewhere). Lewis died in 1963 and so growing up he would have been more familiar with the expression “Jungle Gym” and this would have been the phrase he’d use if he made such an illustration as found in the above quotation.

WHAT LEWIS SAID THAT’S RELATED (or closest to it):

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s own or real life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day. What one calls one’s real life is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 2 (to Arthur Greeves on 12/20/1943) 


“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
from Letters of C.S. Lewis (to Father Peter Bide on 4/29/1959)


“The idea that our sorrow is part of the world’s sorrow is, in certain moods, moving enough: the mere fact that lots of other people have had toothache does not make toothache less painful.”
from Psycho-Analysis and Literary Criticism (in Selected Literary Essays)


“It is painful, being a man, to have to assert the privilege, or the burden, which Christianity lays upon my own sex. I am crushingly aware how inadequate most of us are, in our actual and historical individualities, to fill the place prepared for us.”
from Priestesses in the Church? (in God in the Dock) 

The next quote examined is:

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 11/21/2015

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