Sometimes life is so strange. After writing this morning’s post about Bijou climbing the stairs, I posted it and promptly forgot all about it. John and I had planned to attend a couple of the “River Romance” events, so we left to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and explore the Genesee River.
One of the events listed in the River Romance brochure was “1822 Lighthouse Tours.” We have passed the lighthouse in Charlotte many, many times but have never taken the time to stop and see it. Seeing “free tours” advertised was all the incentive we needed to visit this historic landmark. We stood in line in the glorious sunshine and waited our turn.
Only five people at a time are allowed to go up into the lighthouse. When we reached the front of the line, I poked my head into the doorway and read the signs posted there. To get to the top of the lighthouse, a person must climb 49 steps and then a short ladder. I felt confident that I could handle it.
Finally, it was our turn. The tour guide led, followed by two other visitors, then me and then John. I started up the spiral stairs without hesitation. When I reached the first platform, I began to have a problem. The steps were not solid, but a kind of metal with a grid pattern. Standing on the first platform, I looked down and immediately felt the strangest vertigo. I could see through the mesh of the platform to the spiral steps below and, with my depth perception problems, I could no longer judge the height of the steps in front of me. I told John that I did not know if I could keep going. With his encouragement, I did make it to the ladder. I climbed the ladder, all the time wondering how I was going to make it down.
The top of the lighthouse was great. There was a wonderful view of the Lake and the boatyard. The tour guide explained how the course of the river had changed since the lighthouse was built. He opened the brass and glass housing for the light and showed us – an energy saving lightbulb. How funny to see something so modern in this historic lighthouse. The two people with us asked a lot of questions and soon our time was up. Time to head back down.
I started to sweat. How was I going to get down that ladder and down all those dizzying stairs? The tour guide showed us the best way to begin our descent, then John went down. I told the other two that they might want to go before me, but they insisted that I should go next. I hesitated, then I turned to go down. I was so scared that I was shaky. As I started down, I searched for a handhold. The man behind me took my arm for support, which I really appreciated. I made it down the ladder and turned around to go down the stairs.
It took me so long to make it down those 49 steps. The tour guide was long gone. John kept encouraging me. The visitors behind me were very patient. They actually stayed up at the top of the lighthouse for an extra few minutes. I’m sure it was to give me some time to make it down the stairs. As I reached the bottom, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had made it.
Later, John and I were talking about the visit to the lighthouse and we acknowledged that it is a good thing that we visited this summer. If my eyesight deteriorates any further, I will not be able to get to the top of those steps. This was my opportunity. He also asked if I noticed that my trip up the stairs was fulfilling this morning’s post – I had been scared and almost did not think I could make it up the stairs. It was physically possible (although difficult) but my fear made it seem like I could not tackle the stairs.
I had not noticed the similarity, but once he pointed it out I had to laugh. It’s not every day that I write about conquering fear and then get to live that out in such a concrete way. It’s not every day that I take my own advice.