Monday, July 20, 2009


A couple of months ago, in an attempt to train up for the Rachel Carson challenge I started climbing the stairs in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. Apparently this is a popular activity for athletes of all strips, particularly in the winter months when Pittsburgh's weather ravages even the most hardy.

For those who aren't familiar the Cathedral of Learning is a gothic cathedral on Pitt's campus that houses classrooms, labs, and the like, 42 stories of fun:

Now, suffice to say the summer is not the most popular month for stair climbers, the building offers little ventilation and the conditions outside beg even the most sedentary to come out and play. Still, there is something that calls to be about the steps, the challenge of 36 flights, the sense of accomplishment when I get to the top, the sweat proliferation, perhaps a bit of pure insanity. Needless to say I, along with several like minded partners in crime, have made it a Wednesday night standing plan. While it's tough, and not the most convenient, I can feel myself getting stronger week after week.

Besides the physical, this workout has had an effect on my psyche as well, with elevators and stairs making almost nightly appearances in my dreams. I believe it's one of those situations where the act of ascending stairs connects me to a more ethereal form of ascension or growth. The practice of going up, step by step, until I reach the top and returning to the bottom just to ascend again serves as a moving meditation. Bringing myself to the Cathedral, week after week forges a connection between my body and spirit, the literal manifestation of bringing myself to a place of ascension.

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