My dog is learning how to climb the stairs in our building, and yes . . . it’s adorable. He’d mastered stairs long before coming to live here but not the kind that have spaces between them. Ours allow you to see straight through to the bottom floor, and from his perspective, that’s pretty scary stuff. Each day, however, he becomes just a little braver and a little faster at reaching the top. The echoing chorus of “Good boy” that bounces through the stairwell after each flight is no doubt helping, as are the hugs he receives when there’s no further to climb.
I smiled a little broader at Toby’s accomplishment this morning, because we almost reached a sprinting pace climbing those big scary stairs, and because he reminded me of the challenges we humans face that can start with just one hesitant step.
New adventures – whether chosen or thrust upon us – come with a certain degree of apprehension. For some, that apprehension is minor. For others, it’s overwhelming. At times we’re able to keep our heads high and think only of our destination. More frequently, it seems, we maintain a clear vision of where we started from and are fearful of landing right smack back down there with nothing but wounds to show for our efforts.
Like little Toby, the trick is to keep repeating the required action until it becomes effortless. Don’t give up at the outset; don’t stop half way. If you can’t help but look downward, do so while your feet keep moving up. And for God sake, find someone who will cheer you on during your ascension and hug you at the top. Support is the greatest motivator, and your greatest gift. Receive it, give it, and wag your tail. Everything becomes less scary if you don’t give up.