Much to my horror, I came home from work the other day to find my building enveloped in scaffolding, in preparation for the roof renovation. My neighbours had gathered outside and were discussing the situation and how we all need to report this to our individual household insurances, which I did, but it got me thinking.

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Scaffolding and life ©MTHerzog

Scaffolding on any building is an ugly sight, no matter what you tell me. It ruined my experience in Barcelona, for example, when I saw the Sagrada Familia cathedral, and was so disappointed not to be able to photograph the iconic building. There are several buildings here in Berlin that I am itching to photograph as well, but not while the scaffolding is still up. Then again…

That is what is life is about sometimes, isn’t it? We are at our ugliest while undergoing repairs. It is a temporary state and the scaffolding is actually there to help and protect. What is my personal scaffolding? Therapy, work, life lessons, self-discovery, and the list of things that I don’t particularly like doing at the moment, or struggle with, but I know are part and parcel of my recovery journey.

If there is one thing I have learned in the last three years is that once you hit rock bottom, there is really no other way but to climb back up, and sometimes I need the scaffolding because I can’t take the regular stairs because of all the internal damage. When is the renovation done? The real question is, is self-renovation ever over? We strive to improve ourselves constantly, adjusting to the various elements and weathering all the storms. Some people get so attached to their own scaffolding that they are afraid to remove them, to see the finished product, which becomes vulnerable again to all the bumps and bruises. But at some point, the scaffolding must come off and we need to allow ourselves and others to admire the transformation.

My cats are my best teachers for resilience and transformation. All three of them have a horrible past, are damaged goods, so to speak, and have hit rock bottom. They have visible and emotional scars, like me, and together we heal each other, acting as each other’s scaffolding. I don’t think we will ever fully recover in some respects, and like in any renovation job, you can cover up the surface but you know in your heart what lies beneath. The lesson to be learned from scaffolding is healing, self-preservation, and moving on.