DY: In Just a Few Words (#30)
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
In Athens - at the top of a hill known as the Acropolis and overlooking the city center - sits an historic site known as the Parthenon.
The Parthenon has been there since five centuries before the birth of Christ or, put another way, about 25 centuries before today. By contrast, New York City’s world famous Empire State Building was completed less than one century ago.
Open to the public, the Parthenon welcomes thousands of visitors each day (at least it did pre-COVID) to experience its beauty and the incredible views of Athens. There is only one caveat. You must climb the Acropolis to visit the Parthenon. There is no escalator. To go up is a choice. To come down is a requirement, as there is no Marriott or restaurant to sustain you at the top.
And so it was one day that my wife and I set out to make the climb. Some say it’s not difficult. I disagree. There are no consistent steps, no well-anchored handrails, nothing at all to grab onto. You are on your own traversing well-worn (aka slick) steps with a variety of inches in height, depth and width. Each one is different from the one before or the one coming up. They are smooth and can be very slippery with a little morning dew on the surface. How many of these steps are there? I didn’t count, but I assure you there are a whole bunch.
While inching my way up, I noticed a man ascending ahead of me. He was using two canes. It was obvious he was struggling. But, he plowed onward and upward, powering his way to the top. He wanted to see the Parthenon and nothing was going to stop him, not even a climb where anybody in perfect health could easily fall and be injured - much less someone with mobility issues.
Later that day, we were in the square that contains the Plaka, which is the old town Athens shopping area. I saw the man with the canes again. I caught his eye and he said, I think I recognize you. Are you from Cleveland? Talk about a small world. Two Clevelanders meeting for the first time in Greece.
I walked over and said, Yes, I am a Clevelander. I saw you going up and down the Acropolis this morning and I really respect how you just kept moving. That clearly wasn’t easy. He responded, No, it wasn’t. I have bone cancer. Learning that, I couldn’t believe he had been able to make it up and down. We talked for a few more minutes, then departed vowing to get together once we were back home. His name was Lou. We did see him again, this time at his home. Some time after that, we learned he had died.
I don’t tell you this story to make you sad. Rather, I hope it inspires you. When you’re facing a tough day or perhaps down in spirits, think of this man with two canes who got himself up and down a big hill to spend time seeing an historic site that was important to him. For me and I hope for you, that shows we can muster the energy and willpower to accomplish big things even in the face of adversity. When we don’t give up, we can reach higher than we might ever think possible.
I hope each of us reaches higher today in our own life. Live those words we hear so often - HAVE A GREAT DAY.
Just like my friend Lou did, keep on keepin’ on.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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