Nowadays, less exercise is the mantra I hear from friends. It’s not that though. I don’t think this happened because I wanted to exercise with less force. Taking one step at a time, instead of always, always, taking two-at-a-time, just happened. This slowing down was magical, it wasn’t forced, strived for, or even attempted, and then there’s more.
I am staying in San Francisco this Summer, in a beautiful area of the Mission next to Bernal Heights. The neighborhood of Bernal Heights has hills and hundreds of sweet wooden, rock, dirt, and cement staircases that lead to the next street above or to somewhere even more magical, like a sitting-out area with benches that have a view of the city that will make you gasp. The staircases are not obvious at all to those who may be driving in the area or even walking down the street at a quick pace. These stairs are found by the curious person, without a lot to do, or much on their mind, or just one enjoying the present moment, as I was on the day I started taking the steps in a single step manner. On these staircases, I notice that there are flowers, pictures, signs, shrubs, and even a swing. There are avocado, peach, lemon, orange, and apple trees with fruit hanging off of the branches. Some staircases lead to vast and lush community gardens. Picture heirloom tomatoes, artichokes, fruit trees, and nasturtium flowers among the bounty. When I arrive at the top of the lookout or community garden, I notice that I can really enjoy these places, instead of needing to catch my breath, because I arrived one step at a time. I feel a sense of peace, calm, and grounding, even with a vast view of San Francisco in front of me.
Maybe these stairs are magical, or my eyes and heart are just so full that when I am on the stairs, I slow down. I take one step and look down to see what I am stepping on and around. Then I take another. I think about who made these stairs and I am grateful for them. When I arrive at the next street, I decide to wander down the street, and there is more! There is a yard where a sign is inviting the passerby to look for five pairs of sunglasses in the family’s front garden. I think to myself, I have been down this same street before on a run and I never saw that invitation. There is a beautifully written note in a nearby tree that beckons one to add art around the tree, and on the sidewalk to make the world a better place.
Taking the stairs one by one has made me appreciate my surroundings, even more, this Summer. I believe that by taking the stairs one at a time, instead of power stepping up them, I am learning to accept and be more open to grace. I am taking the advice of the signs in the trees to make the world a better place, slow down, don’t push up the stairs, be curious, be open and be present.