I used to love mountains. I’m not just talking about the real ones I used to climb. They were great tests of endurance and spirit. There was nothing to beat the exhilaration of getting back down to face the prospect of a ninety minute drive whilst saturated by Snowdonia’s extremities.
No, I’m talking metaphors here. At the risk of that cheesy anthem from the Sound of Music drifting into my…………oh no, it’s there, I’m referring to overcoming life’s obstacles.
Many times I’ve found myself slung on the stinking floor of a medieval oubliette. Surrounded by the filth and stench of defeat and humiliation, I have to scramble my way out fighting off the clamorous rats.
They claw and bite at my spirit but eventually I emerge blinking into the cruel world. At least in the cold light of day I can see them. Then I wonder why I bothered. The world has as many mountains as bottomless pits.
But we were made to climb. I never tired of climbing. Yesterday’s plans were innocent enough. Monica, the kindly lady who was thrilled to give a loving home to Seymour had invited me round for tea. It was a chance to see my little old companion and observe how he was settling into his new home. I’d been forewarned of the steps but assured of an alternative rear entrance that involved a trip through the undergrowth along the side of the house.
“No,” I proclaimed. “I can do these steps.” There were three paved steps to get to the front door followed by three more inside the porch; an elevation of about three foot four inches. Just over a meter in new money. Now I have known about my diminishing capabilities with stairs for a long time. Even with rails, they present the improbable leading to the impossible. In the early noughties I agreed to have a new piano pupil who’s house was down a considerable flight of unrailed steps.
It was difficult but with the cunning use of a walking stick, I made it possible. Fast forward to now. After the first attempt at the first step, I wondered what on earth I’d done. How could it happen? Was a brief foolhardy moment of derring-do going to transform me once more into a brave mountaineer?
With my left arm supported and the used of strategically placed chairs, it took thirteen minutes to complete my climb. There were some dangerous moments when I risked losing all dignity resulting from a gentle stumble. The heady lush scent of the myrtle bush appeared to be calling me into its sharp twiggy bosom.
“Away you wicked siren. You shall not feed off my optimism.”
At the summit, I breathlessly transfered to my wheels and all normality returned as I spent a delightful time fussing over Seymour with tea and cake.
The descent was more expedient. The awkward initial climb had given me the tools of familiarity. I knew my enemy. I made strategies. MS can take many things away; mobility, convenience, control and energy. But (imagine Mel Gibson with a formulated Perthshire accent and the backdrop a castle ruins with a roaring bonfire) “it’ll take away my life but it will never take my freedom.”
It was assuring to see that the decision I had made; a decision doubted by some, was a good one. In fact it was the best one and the whole satisfactory conclusion was achieved with the help of others. Here is the answer to the doubters.
Thank you for reading.