The long way up.

I’m fairly certain that if Sam and Zadie hadn’t come along, I’d still be gazing at my navel wondering what to do with my life. Something about their demands on my time and attention made me realize how much (or how little) of it there was. I’ve been doing things I wouldn’t have done on my own ever since.

Last week, that meant a visit to the state capitol building. Iowa has a particularly beautiful one, so much majesty and gold leaf and deep rich blues and golds and greens in the painted murals. Representative Sharon Steckman, the ranking member of the house education committee (and lifelong friend of Jim, who grew up with her son, Matt), organized the tour for me and the kids, plus our pals Craig and Carter Jensen. She then escorted us to the very top of the dome after it was over.

It wasn’t til we’d climbed the 200th of the narrow and steep steps that felt like something out of an H.G. Wells story that I remembered how I occasionally experience claustrophobia and fear of heights. And then I forgot this altogether when the kids began getting a little worried about the climb themselves.

Out of some obscure lobe of my brain came this quote, remembered from who knows what book, announced to the kids:

“Courage is being afraid of something, and doing it anyway.”

That final step out of the capitol’s inner dome and into the fresh air of this unusually warm spring literally took my breath away, as we looked out over our fine city.

I wasn’t scared a bit.

Capitol Building Photo Credit: © Walter Bibikow/JAI/Corbis)


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