Conquering the staircase of hardship

By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist

When I was little and the light shining from my family’s living room TV would nudge my heavy eyelids awake, I would call for my dad, requesting a piggy back ride up the stairs. There, I would make my way to the twin-sized bed in my room and fall into a comfortable sleep.

My dad would say that he would carry me once I climbed up the first three steps that were enveloped in an old beige carpet. The carpet covering the stairs was spotted with miscellaneous stains and drool from the family dog, who liked to lounge there, where the sun fell on chilly autumn Sundays. At the third step, he promised that he would swing me onto his back and I wouldn’t have to exert any more energy until my eyes peeled open the next day.

Although not the optimal response, I would still manage to climb up the bottom three stairs and await my ride. “Just five more,” Dad said, “then I will carry you.” To this, I would huff and puff, but nevertheless scurry up the stairs, thinking that at least I didn’t have to go the full way.

We would go back and forth like this until I was at the top of the staircase, glaring down at my dad, who no longer had the duty of easing my journey – I had climbed the stairs by myself. Admittingly a bit irritated, but ultimately exhausted from the midnight trek, I would knock out and forget about our whole encounter, only to be tricked again the next time I fell asleep to the TV light.

I am not sure what it is about this memory that makes it float through my mind every now and then. Perhaps I am amazed with how gullible I was, truly believing that my dad would carry me up the stairs once I reached a certain point. Or maybe what strikes me is the notion that I didn’t think I could ever make it up the stairs; I thought I was too tired to complete the journey. And yet, every time, I would, in fact, make it.

It is now that I look back and realize that my dad may have inadvertently been teaching me a very valuable life lesson.

Think about a really difficult trial that you have experienced in your life. In the first few days of adjusting to hardship, it is really difficult to believe that you will ever make it through in one piece. But each day, you woke up, went to work, attended class, cooked dinner and brushed your teeth at night. You realized the only way to survive the bad times is to go through them, not around them; the only way to overcome an obstacle is to climb the stairs, not hitch a piggy back ride from your dad.

When bad things happen, we hope and wish and pray that the pain will dissipate and we will blink and be in our childhood twin-sized bed, with no worries other than if dinner will end in time to catch the Disney Channel premiere of “Camp Rock.”

As humans, we are always looking for the easy way out, especially when we believe that we are not strong enough to deal with the pain of hardship.

But now, you are out of the darkness that once consumed you, and your past wounds have been healed. You are at the top of the staircase (remember how you didn’t think you could ever make it?). 

From the bottom, the troubles that life brings can seem like an impossible burden, but once you conquer the staircase it is clear to see that it was your strength and perseverance that got you through.

A lot of us are struggling right now. We are getting tired and grumpy, and there is no way of knowing how many more stairs we have left to climb. We cannot lose hope. If you are reading this now, you have overcome a million staircases. You did not complete those journeys by having your dad carry you on his back. You simply looked at the single step that lay ahead of you, and kept moving.

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