Argh, stairs, my old nemesis!

Two things in life I dread

There are two things in my life that I do not enjoy at all –  The thought of running and a looming flight of stairs. If you ever see me running, you should immediately turn around and follow my lead because that means that whatever is chasing me can kill you.  Whenever I see a flight of stairs, I immediately think of poor Po from Kung Fu Panda, struggling to reach the top, gasping for breath and declaring, “Argh, stairs, my old nemesis.”

This weekend, as Cyclone Seroja was tearing through our Mid West, the Venter Four (as I fondly call my little family) together with the Senior boys from four Boys Brigade companies hiked a whopping twenty kilometres in Perth City. It was wet, and it was windy, and it was a long walk.

After the morning devotions about six kilometres into our day, the group went on while I snuck over to the Dome near the BHP Building for a caffeine boost.  Being the good, kind and considerate wife and mum that I am, I also bought takeaways for my husband and two boys who were somewhere ahead of me.

Who needs water when they have coffee?

Dressed in a cheap Kmart emergency poncho, four steaming hot drinks in a tray, I quickly decided to lose the extra water that I packed in ziplocked bags (it started defrosting and was ice cold on my lower back.) Also, who needs water when they have coffee? I set after the group at a considerably faster pace (not running, mind you) than before, and I caught my beloved just before the famed Jacob’s Ladder.

With my precious cargo in hand, I started climbing those dreaded stairs. Halfway up, I stopped and wanted to cry, but I was breathing so heavily that my tear ducts could not summon the fluid to cry. People passed me, smiling. (Who on earth has the energy to smile while climbing those torturous concrete steps?)  Children cheered me on. (Or were they howling with laughter?)

I made it. I handed the latte to the first fruit of my womb. Yes, my almost fifteen-year-old drinks coffee. And I stood gasping for air when some quick-witted youngster asked why I did not get him one. (Note to self, start working on quick comebacks even when you are gulping like a fish out of water.)

But, my heart rate did not go higher than 145 beats per minute during this trying experience, which means that climbing the ladder torture machine and doing strength and core training at my local gym has paid off. I will never run willingly, but I do see stairs and some ladders as challenges to be overcome. 

This curvy body was not made to climb on ladders, or was it?

Up until the beginning of 2021, I was a real estate photographer. During one of the shoots, a home seller asked me to climb onto a ladder to get a photo of the sea view that they have from their home. I told him in no uncertain terms that my very curvy body was not made for ladders, and he was welcome to get onto it and take the photo himself.

But truth be told, I was scared that I would fall and hurt myself, and I did not trust that he would be able to hold that ladder while I was ascending to see the view. As I grew stronger from going to the gym more regularly, I could conquer that fear not too long after, getting on a ladder to take photos of an attic.  My core was more substantial, and my balance better. And I felt more capable.

Is success found at the top? Or is the top only a new beginning?

Once, in my youthful ignorance, I told my mum that I would get to the top even if I had to step on and over people to do it. I did not understand that ladders and stairs need firm foundations and anchors to keep them steady. Often, people hold on to the ladder’s base so that those on the rungs can get safely to the top. 

Having a solid core and balance in your physical life is just as crucial in your emotional and spiritual life. Having foundations upon which you can build, and people who hold your ladder tight are so important. Sometimes you are the first to arrive at the top, other days you are the last one to reach it. Some days you are the cheerleader, and other times you are being cheered on.

Yes, celebrate your success. Gather your people around you. Then regroup and journey on. Remember – reaching the top is never the end destination.  It is a new beginning.

About Marlize Venter

Marlize writes what others think but are too scared/shy to say. A coffee lover, she enjoys the catch ups that accompany coffee dates. Marlize is a homeschooling mum to two boys and have been married a lifetime to the same man. She loves taking photos of jumping spiders, flowers and women. Marlize studied law at uni, obtained an Honours in Latin, published a book of Afrikaans spiritual poems and co-authored an e-book about the first 1000 days of immigration. She ascribes to the motto of reinventing herself often.