Stairs. Stairs. You gotta take the stairs. You see that, don’t you?
You gotta take the stairs. Why?
Because there’s no elevator to success! You can’t get to the
second floor of the Hames Center in Sitka, Alaska
without reading the reminder
You gotta take the stairs.
A good slogan for an exercise center, you’d have to think,
the more exercise the better,
the set of 20 steps a warmup for the second floor,
a large room of gleaming exercise machines
all designed to keep us healthy.

There are no short cuts. An elevator will not do.
You gotta take the stairs.

Sure, sure, anybody can see that, you say, when it comes to
physical health, but otherwise?
Isn’t the elevator to success exactly the new American dream,
instant gratification without the effort,
to win big in the national lottery our secret desire,
the daily hope?
Isn’t it the case that the gotta has got up and gone,
that steps and stairs having had
their day?
Honestly now, when you get right down to it, isn’t a sleek
new elevator, the latest from Otis,
like the smell of a new car, much to be preferred?

Besides, since when do stairs ever define our everyday?
We don’t climb, we walk, mostly, not going up at all,
sometimes we stumble, going down,
taking the wrong path or a rocky one,
other times, if we’re lucky, we’ll hit a dead end,
forcing us to make a choice,
the anguish of it, leading us to fall upward,
over time,
out of the dark into the light and a startling new way
of seeing and being,
encountering the Other in ourselves.


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