When the escalator stops…..

escalators

How does it makes you feel?

I’m always amazed at how a simple thing like a non-rolling escalator can suddenly throw you completely off-balance and make you feel really weird.

It got me to thinking about life and how we cope when things suddenly change or stop working the way they should.

It could be a sudden health issue, job loss or sideways transfer, relationship challenge or breakdown, children leaving home – any one of a myriad of things that we human beings are subjected to in our daily lives.

So, one minute we are all hunky-dory, coasting along going about our business. The up escalator takes us up, the down escalator takes us down. We hop on and off, effortlessly, not thinking for a minute about what we are doing. Everything’s on auto-pilot.

Then one day, something happens. Life as we knew it has stopped. We are faced with sudden change. It may not be a permanent blot on the landscape, but it is something different. How do we feel.

I know that when I come across an escalator that isn’t working, my brain wants to approach it the same way as when it was working. My foot goes on the tread, and I’m meant to glide upwards. My brain is expecting an upward trajectory but…what the?? I suddenly lurch forward, sideways, wobbling, grabbing on to the handrail – looking around to see if anyone is watching this little sideshow while I wait for my brain to adjust to the fact that I have to now put one foot in front of the other and get myself up on my own steam.

And so it may be with life. From time to time, circumstances demand we need to change the way we think and approach our lives. It’s how we adapt to this change that is the crucial thing.

We are so used to everything going as we planned, envisaged or forecast. Our brains get conditioned to our car being in the carpark when we return to it, our credit cards working, our power being on all the time, our computers working, our internet being connected and our phones having all our information neatly stored in them. Effortlessly.

But, when change comes around, we are so surprised. We are so un-ready. We are suddenly faced with the need to make a new plan, a new forecast, a new trajectory – something that our brain can absorb and work with.

Every day, most of take our health for granted. We get up, we do all the things we know we can do. We think about maybe eating better, exercising more, drinking less, managing our stress better – but does it get beyond “thinking”. So often it doesn’t. And we coast along, thinking that life is always going to be this way. But, all our habits form our lives. Whilst living a healthy life doesn’t guarantee longevity, it certainly increases the likelihood of reduced health issues and a life lived happier and with less stress. Yet, why don’t we make those changes while we still can. Why do we wait for the sudden “lurch” and “wobble” when we are suddenly told news by our doctors that we really don’t want to hear. We seem to prefer the sudden “jerk” into reality than to take matters into our hands to reduce the unpleasant, sudden surprises and required brain re-wiring.

Every day, we take our living circumstances for granted. Our home, our comfortable environment, our cars. What if we could no longer afford to keep any of those things due to failing health, loss of income, a terrible accident or some other life-changing loss. Do we even stop before we get on the escalator and wonder about taking the stairs?

Yes, stairs. These are things that get us to the same destination as escalators and lifts but require a really conscious effort. They make us face things like our fitness, our health, our thoughts as we put one foot above the other to reach our goal.

Perhaps we should all do more mental stair-climbing instead of gliding along on mental escalators or lifts. Maybe being more aware of our every day “steps” will give us more insight into the value of our daily habits, blessings and otherwise.

Next time you step onto a moving escalator and gaze around you, or look at your phone – take a minute to think about your life. Are you on auto-pilot?

Next time you step onto the non-moving escalator and you get that “wobble and jerk”, think about how maybe you are also taking your life’s trajectory for granted.

Start taking the mental stairs every day – you’re body and mind will thank you.

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