Monday, September 23, 2013


I've never been fond of ladders.

Back when I was repairing the eaves on my old house, I needed a 40' ladder to reach the peak at the front  of the house.  My daughter was working for a roofing company at the time, and they agreed to loan me one of theirs.

So, the weekend after it was delivered, I hauled it from the backyard, extended it and propped it against the side of the house.  Before starting my climb, I stepped back, and looked up - and up, and up.

OK, I told myself.  Lots of people climb ladders like this every day.  They don't fall off.  Ignore that voice that says, 'yeah, but what about the ones who DO take a tumble?'.  Start climbing.  Take it one step at a time.

Paintbrush and scraper firmly in my back pockets, I grabbed my paint bucket, told my daughter to hold the bottom of the ladder steady, and started on up.  Halfway there, I stopped to catch my breath and look around.  It wasn't so bad; things are pretty from 15 feet off the ground.

So, I continued to the top.  I rested my paint bucket on the top rung, and as I did so, happened to look down - and down, and down.  That was a mistake.  My hands froze to the sides of the ladder.  Reaching around to grab my brush out of my pocket seemed foolhardy at best.  Every move I made seemed certain to shake me off my rickety perch and send me tumbling.

Stop, I told me.  Breathe.  This work isn't going to do itself.  Slowly, one at a time, I pried my fingers loose from their secure hold.  (that prying was mental, of course.  I certainly wasn't about to let go with BOTH hands, now was I?)   Barely breathing, I marshalled my fears.  Clinging to the ladder with my other hand and my shins, I slowly dipped the paintbrush into the can and got to work.

Fortunately, the peak of the roof isn't all that wide, and it only took me a few minutes to complete the work at the highest point.  I gratefully grabbed my paint can and eased my way down to the ground and safety.

I lowered the ladder several feet, and started back up again.  When I got to the top, it suddenly didn't seem too bad - this time, I didn't look down, and I could look up and see that I wasn't as far off the ground as I'd been a few minutes earlier.  An hour or so later, the work was done.  And I was done in.  I was exhausted and shaking - that facing down your fears stuff takes a LOT of work!

Ever since that day, I've been able to climb my measly little 24 footer with relative ease; by comparison it's a piece of cake.  (even if I do still end up with bruises on my shins from using them to hold onto the rungs.)

But I'm still not fond of ladders.

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