I have been thinking a lot about this recently. How hard the first step is for those around me to take. Is it because, like Martin Luther King predicted, we want to see the whole staircase?
I take a lot of first steps. I seem to be good at doing it. And then I grow frustrated when the climb starts to look tough and I turn around and no one else is there. No one else seems to have been brave enough to make the leap with me. In their defence, I may not see the whole staircase but I certainly see the top. I see what it could be like if I make it there. Where I fail is I don’t see all the hard work in between.
I have a real thing for men that are physically fit and strong. I used to think it was an evolutionary thing. And while I still think that is partly true, whilst talking about this recently with a girlfriend over a glass or two of gin, I realised something else is also at play. You have to have tenacity and drive to maintain strength and fitness. And I admire that immensely in a person. At first I thought it was because that was the part of the journey I was so bad at. Always falling in love with new people, places, and projects. And then quickly out again when the going got tough.
But I have changed in the last five years. I am that tenacious, driven person investing in physical strength. I have gone from a size 16 and 13.5 stone to a size 10, 10 stone, half marathon runner. I can’t quite believe what stares back at me in the mirror sometimes.
And that is because I did more than take the first step, give up, and sit forever on it. I work hard on my fitness still and push myself out of bed to run when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. And the external change is nothing in comparison to the internal change. I am invested for the long-term in the management of my mental wellness. When I feel like doing it and, even more importantly, when I don’t.
But the staircase never ends. I realise that. Until my end of days, I will be climbing it and never reaching Nirvana. At least not in this lifetime! Because the more I learn about myself, the more there is to learn. I sometimes wish for the blissful ignorance I had before. But then I remind myself I would spend three days in bed and just accept it as ‘part of who I am’. I don’t want to be that girl again.
So right now, I am resting. I have climbed so far and as I look down at the staircase I can very very faintly see the bottom step where I started. The staircase continues on and on into the clouds but I am too tired to climb at the moment. I’m going to sit here and feel proud of how far I have come. I am going to pause to enjoy the view around me. And gather my strength for the next step.