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  • Tom Boyd

300 Steps

My German cousins living in Berlin took Nancy and I, in September, to the Baltic Sea and to Poland. The Baltic Sea was nice and the area is a heavy German tourist haven for Berliners. During the summer the population increases 4 or 5 times along the coast. Great beach, good and fresh seafood. We went to Poland to visit the lighthouse.

Świnoujście Lighthouse, also known as Swinemünde Lighthouse, is an active lighthouse in Świnoujście (German: Swinemünde), Poland. At a height of 212 feet (65 m) it is the fifteenth tallest “traditional lighthouse” in the world, as well as the tallest brick lighthouse, and the tallest in Poland. It is located on the east bank of the river Świna just inside the entrance. And with 300 steps it has the 7th most steps among lighthouses. Built in 1859.

At the lighthouse I had to think seriously about climbing to the top or perhaps stopping at the first level, 120 steps up. I did realize that I may never see Poland again and very unlikely to see the lighthouse again given its remote location. While thinking about it, my cousin, Annerose, had gone into the gift store and bought me a certificate that stated Thomas E. Boyd climbed the world’s tallest brick lighthouse.

I climbed it, a mother and a 7- or 8-year-old girl passed me both ways and a 78 or so old lady came down as I was going up. I don’t know if they went all the way up as they could have stopped at the first level as Nancy and the older cousins did.

I took my time; back, knees, lungs and finally toes all complained about the effort. Once I got to 280 steps I discovered another problem, no more circular stairs but a ladder going straight up, oh joy. At 290 steps I switched from that ladder to another that was narrower than me (almost). Young cousin Stephan had to hold my iPad. Glad to say no people were going up or down during my trials. I had a vision of me being stuck in the lighthouse and feeling pity for the rescuers.

Finally I stepped out and stopped. For the first time in my life I was height “sensitive” (ok, scared). With my back hugging the wall I took only two pictures, breathed and started back down.

Thinking about it was not the decision to climb similar to many life decisions? Did I climb because it was there and the time was now? Did I climb because I realized that I would never come that way again? Did I climb because Annerose had given me the certification and I felt it was expected of me? Did I climb because I felt challenged?

May we all climb the 300 steps as we come upon them in our lives.



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