The Stairs

“No way” was the thought running through my mind.

We decided to do the famous “Walk of the Gods” – or at least the part that goes from Praiano to Positano. We got the hiking directions from the hotel – it was a step by step guide apparently (we got lost anyways).

But first, to get to the trail, we had to climb stairs. A lot of stairs. Over 1000 stairs to be specific. We had to get to the “15th cross”. There was a cross at the landing after each “flight” of stairs – which is about 50-100 stairs each.

At the top of all the stairs we would then have to find our way to a monastery – and that would be close to the START of the trail; it should take us 1 hour to get there. Then we would start the “Walk of the Gods” which took another 3 hours.

I was sceptical. A little bit of a chicken, I’m afraid. All those stairs were so intimidating. Could I climb all that way – for 1 hour? Could I then continue for another 3 hours to Positano through the trails? I started worrying. What if the trails were too hard? The guidebook said it was not for any one with vertigo, and there were some tight spots to go around. I don’t like heights and I’m a bit of a klutz so that seemed to be cause for concern to me. I ran through all the reasons why the trail was too hard. And I looked up and all I saw were stairs with no end in sight.

Then I changed my perspective. I asked myself, “Can I make it up that next flight of stairs?”. And the answer was always “Yes”. I stopped thinking of the potential problems and the long distance still to go. I focused on what was in front of me. I focused on what was within my view. I took it one step at a time literally. I didn’t think about the 4 hours. I thought about the next two minutes.

Along the way, we took rest breaks. In those rest breaks, we stopped and took in the spectacular views. It was breathtaking. Amazing. We took photos and video (see them in the entry a few days ago!). Then we continued along until the next break. We were energized after each break.

All of a sudden, we were there. We had done it. We took a few wrong turns and ended up having to climb down 1700 steps which left my legs quivering…but we did it. It was a sense of accomplishment and felt so good to have completed something I thought I couldn’t do.

This reminded me of a valuable life lesson. How many times do we get overwhelmed by the task at hand, worry about the end result, and wonder if we can do it? Do we sometimes get discouraged and give up before we start? If we do get started, do we find joy in the journey?

We need to focus on climbing one staircase at a time. We know our final destination – but there is no pressure to get there in the 4 hours the guidebook suggests. Are we sometimes faced with trials that seem insurmountable and we want to give up, or feel like we just can’t go on?

We need to take one step at a time. Worry about the next 5 minutes. If 5 minutes is too long, then worry about the next 2 minutes. Like the analogy I use with my clients – eating an elephant may seem impossible, but if we take one bite at a time, we can do it. One step of the stair case brings us closer to the top of the hill. Closer to our final destination.

And when we get there – it is beautiful. We feel a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. We know we can do anything. We know we can overcome obstacles. That gears us up for the next 15 flights of stairs we know we will inevitably have to face. But with this perspective of “one step at a time”, we know we can climb any number of stairs and we should enjoy every single step.

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