Mental Health

Staircase | by Ling Choi | Medium

Ling Choi

I have come to finally understand how to walk after 29 years.

As an always active and ambitious person, it had taken me quite a long while to realize I was on the verge of burning out.

It took something physical — feeling my heart pounding and my lungs out of breath — a panic attack — to force me to slow down and relearn how to live again.

At 170 centimeters tall, I would have never imagined my 23-square-meter space massive. But that was what began to happen.

Constant fatigue loomed over me. As there was no energy to pump out adrenaline, I dragged myself through my daily routine. The basics had turned difficult. The pain caused by my inner turmoil even made walking become trudging, my bed my best company for several days. It felt like a new eternity.

Fortunately, the pain did eventually ease off. After numerous rounds of untying mental knots and watching the swaying branches outside my sunlit room, I gradually regained my strength. The unforgettable sensation of standing straight on my own feet after being powerless brought me sheer bliss. With determination, I headed out for natural remedy, to feel the rhythm and heartbeat of spring, and most importantly, to heal myself.

My daily strolls started from the staircase in my building. A staircase, being the in-between part of our journeys, is long neglected. It’s designated for bridging us from one specific place to another, be it a short run to the supermarket or a daily commute to work. Deliberately not taking the elevator, the fast track to the outside world, I took the slow way instead.

After each story, I was able to pause. A common balcony with glass doors brought in streams of afternoon light and garnished the stone steps with dancing shadow. The warm, unobtrusive ambience cradled this transitional space. This familiar setting became an illuminating discovery playground.

Moving forward, feeling the solid ground beneath me, my baby steps reminded me of presence. Each day a few more steps, letting my breath guide me — speed did not matter.

Finding joy in every step, I now know it is time to take a slow dance with life.

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