In the spring of 2020 the world seems like a precarious place, but compared to a flight of stairs it’s a piece of graduation cake.

How’s that for an opener to my annual message to anyone graduating from anything or about to take a big step into a new endeavor?

Is there anything more metaphorical when it comes to either beginning a career or starting something new than a flight of stairs?

I don’t think there is.

There is Martin Luther King’s famous quote that you don’t need to see the whole staircase if you have enough faith to take the first step, for starters.

Continuing on, axioms regarding taking the stairs and not the elevator to success and the world is full of stairs, those that go up and those that go down are there too.

You can’t fight a flight of stairs when it comes to life long metaphors.

But watch your step.

Research tells us that behind car accidents but ahead of drownings, falling on stairs is the second most common cause of accidental death world wide.

The reasons are plenty.

First they’re not always well lit.

At least in my world, when the light at the top of the stairs burns out it stays out way too long. Changing it requires using a ladder on a flight of stairs, which just sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

And there are handrails. Or rather, the lack of them. Again, most houses start out with one but someday, somebody needs to move something up or down the stairs that only fits if the handrail is taken down.

In honor of my wife’s aunt, Dorothy Round, we added handrails to the entry steps to our house, so at least those steps are good.

And then there’s just “stuff.”

Stuff that gets sat either at the top or the bottom of a flight of stairs with the good intention being that the next person heading up or down can tote it along. Hands now full, the perilous trip just got a bit riskier.

As if the year 2020 needed another risk, it’s that first step that is the most dangerous. Going up stairs and tripping on step number one, well that’s usually just embarrassing. Coming down stairs in basically a controlled slow motion fall, an error on that first step leads to something far worse than embarrassment.

And it should be none too surprising to learn that those falling on stairs are most commonly 65 years of age or older. Is there anything these days that doesn’t target the elderly? Our house’s sole flight of stairs heads to the basement. If I am to be involved in a stairway fall it will most likely be on this flight. Coincidentally, early civilizations built stairs for the purpose of going downward. They were far more interested in what was below the earth’s surface than they were in tall buildings. We didn’t move from a large two story house to a one story ranch just to stop climbing stairs but the idea that I don’t have to becomes more appreciated every day.

So graduates of 2020, and any other reader about to face a new endeavor, have the faith to take your first steps.

It’s a long set of stairs you’re heading up and the only certainty is that the top of your flight is nowhere in sight.

My advice to you is to watch the first step, hang onto the handrail (if it’s there) and, yeah, take it one step at a time.

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