learning to climb
In 2014 I was briefly paralyzed from the neck down for about 3 hours. I’d endured a spinal fracture a few weeks earlier, and apparently it caught up with me. I couldn’t move or feel my limbs at all
Although, by the grace of God, I eventually managed to get out of bed that day, I have been in considerable pain ever since. Nevertheless, I have managed to do a lot of hiking, walking, exercising, dancing, despite the pain. But, one thing that was very difficult for me was going up and down stairs. Just a stair or two was daunting to me. I would have to literally think about how to move my legs to go up or down the stairs. I could hike up and down hills (painfully) but, for some reason, my brain to leg connection wouldn’t work on stairs. I would manage to conquer one step at a time, with both feet resting on each step, before going up or down the next one.
In 2019, when a pet friendly two story apartment came up for rent in Sedona, I didn’t hesitate to apply for it. Housing is hard to come by in Sedona, so I pounced on the opportunity. My bedroom and office were on the second floor, and the kitchen and living area were downstairs. I had to go up and down stairs several times a day. I thanked God for the handrail. Sometimes I would find myself halfway down the stairs, and try as I might, my brain would not engage with my left leg. I would have to dig deep into myself to get my left leg to move at all.
One stair at a time, day after day. I often cried, as I wrestled with my non-compliant body. I angrily reprimanded myself. Why in the hell did I decide to move to this stupid, dumb, apartment with stairs? What was I thinking? But, I did what I had to do, day after day. One. Step. At. A. Time.
My apartment is like a lighthouse, with a very dark downstairs area, and a sunny and bright upstairs with a balcony. I began to realize that every time I painfully made it upstairs, the view was always worth the climb. I began to fall in love with my place.
Then, one day, something happened. Like a child running downstairs to find presents under the Christmas tree, I swooped down the stairs like they were nothing! I didn’t even think about it. And then, I heard the phone ringing upstairs, and I zipped upstairs to answer my landline before the fourth ring. Strangely, it was several of these quick trips up and down stairs before I realized the healing that had occurred.
This evening, as I grabbed the dishes off of my desk upstairs (because I like to eat and drink while watching the birds and squirrels from my office window), I descended the stairs juggling a sharp knife in one hand, and dishes in the other. It dawned on me that, not long ago, I would not have been able to descend these stairs with both arms full, without holding onto the handrail.
And, that’s when I realized, my education in ascending and descending the stairs of my home, was quite a metaphor for life itself. Life has its ups and downs, and challenges. Sometimes it feels like we are walking through molasses, or are barely able to juggle everything. Sometimes, every movement is painful or challenging to a degree.
But, when we persevere, we find that the view was worth the climb.
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