A Thousand Miles

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

You know that quote, right? Yeah, of course you do. We all know that quote. We’ve seen it a hundred-thousand-million times in our lives, tacked up on all kinds of posters and placards, almost always backed with some sort of inspirational picture of mossy rocks or the ocean or, maybe, a towering mountain range. I get it. It’s a good quote. Right up there with the hanging kitten poster with the words, “HANG IN THERE!!!” shouting at you from the bottom, in all capital letters and with several exclamation points bringing up the rear — you know, just to drive the point home.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

It is inspirational, isn’t it? I mean, it really makes you stop and think — about life, about where you’ve been, about where you might want to go, about how it might be possible to achieve all those dreams you’ve kept hidden, deep down inside, for far too long. Maybe, it’s even enough to push a person forward, to encourage someone to begin anew or tackle that life-altering “thing” that’s been put off for way too long. It’s heavy stuff, that quote. Good stuff.

raindrops2

I think I hate that saying. It makes everything feel so simple and so easy. You want to go on some huge, life-altering journey? Great! Just take a step and, before you know it, *boom*,  you’re there! But life is seldom that simple. Maybe it is for other people, but not for me.

The thing is … It’s not the second step or the tenth step or the thirty-second step or even the hundred-and-fifty-first that’s hard. The hard part is that first step. There’s a huge leap of faith involved in taking that first step. Because you have to believe there will be a second step or a tenth or a thirty-second … and so on. You have to believe you will, first, find a path and, second, manage to stay on that path. You have to believe life can change. You have to believe you can change. You have to believe in yourself. And that’s hard. Like, bone-shaking, shiver-inducing, panic-stricken HARD. Sometimes, it feels beyond impossible. The doubts and uncertainty are chaotic and painful. They pile up and up and up, until you feel you might choke on them. You might hate these feelings, but they are so familiar that, no matter how obscene it feels, you cling to them.

Stacks of Cars

I’ve been on my own journey of a thousand miles. It has proven to be a meandering jaunt, with unexpected side trips, detours, and set-backs along the way. Each time, taking that first step has been hard. And painful. And, probably, not something I would have chosen to do, had I been left with any other choice. And yet, in each instance, I was left with no other choices. It was move forward or sit down beside the road of my misery and die. It sounds so dramatic when I write it out in black and white. I feel a little bit silly about it, honestly, because I am not a dramatic sort of person. But, dramatic or not, it was the truth.

Is the journey over? No. I don’t think I’ve finished walking my own thousand miles. The older I get and the more life experience I gather, the more I realize I may never reach that coveted mile marker. It’s a good journey. It’s also a bad journey. It’s a journey full of missteps and stupid mistakes. But also packed with laughter and joy and memories. Sometimes, I wonder where I might wind up at the end of it all. And other times, I find the ending point doesn’t really matter much. Because it truly is the journey that counts, as cliche as that sounds. But I do know this: I am glad I found the courage and strength to take the first step.

There’s another saying I love, from another great philosopher of our time. And this one speaks to me much more than Lao Tzu’s words, wise though they may be. This gentleman said, “I’m a thousand miles from nowhere. Time don’t matter to me. ‘Cause I’m a thousand miles from nowhere. And there’s no place I wanna be.”

Oh yeah. Sing it, Dwight Yoakum. Sing it again, just for me. And I’ll hum along as I trudge my thousand miles.

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2 thoughts on “A Thousand Miles

  1. “In each instance, I was left with no other choices. It was move forward or sit down beside the road of my misery and die. It sounds so dramatic when I write it out in black and white… But, dramatic or not, it was the truth.”

    Amen! I think I’ve actually tried to sit down beside the road of my misery and die. But life just keeps on coming, and eventually you don’t die, so you stand back up and take that first step.

    • Sitting by the road always seems like a great idea at the time. But you’re right: Life keeps moving along and coming at you. I don’t think it makes the first step easier … but maybe it makes it possible.

      Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for taking the time to read my post. And thank you, especially, for your lovely and thoughtful comment. I appreciate it so much. 🙂

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