Learning to Let Go …

Well.

Let’s just get the obvious over with … address the elephant in the room … etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

It’s been a loooong time since I came into this blog. It’s been a long time since I had anything to say. No. That’s not true. I’ve had lots to say. I’ve had lots of stuff running around in my brain. Maybe too much stuff. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying not to think about most of it. My life, basically, has become a routine of just putting one foot in front of the other in an effort to continue moving forward through Time. Because, if I stop … if I think about any of it too much … if I try to put any of it into words … I dunno. It just feels like it would spell disaster. My guess is that I’m not alone in this. This pandemic and the accompanying wave of unkindness and incivility is mentally and physically draining, isn’t it? Just moving forward with life seems like an insurmountable task in the midst of all of it. And yet, Time moves forward. Life moves forward. Things change, whether we want them to or not.

Which leads me to this post and to my need to learn how to let go. I’m not good at this. There have been points in my lifetime when I’ve looked around at my life, at all the people I love who are in my life, at the pets I hold dear … just, you know, all of it: the whole crazy, busy, weird, wonderful thing … and I find myself thinking, “Yes. This is a Good Life. This is perfect. I like how this feels. I like how this is. I do not want it to change. Ever.” We all know these thoughts are silly, right? Right. Maybe “silly” isn’t the right word for it. Perhaps “fanciful” is a better description. Whatever you call it, this idea that your life is perfect and that you want it to hold its breath and stay just the same is a dream. It is impossible. Because, Time. And because Life. Even so, I find myself grabbing hold of all my beloved people and life things and memories and everything with both arms. I am grabby with it, and I want to hold on so, so tightly.

It doesn’t do any good, does it? No matter how much I grab and no matter how tightly I try to hold on to all of it, my beautiful, perfect, never-want-it-to-change life slips right through my fingers. It’s like trying to hold on to water. No, because I can hold water, if I cup my hands just right. It’s like trying to hold on to air. And I know, if I am lucky enough to still be walking this Earth ten years from now (if our beautiful Earth is still here!), I will look back at this time in my life and see it in the kind of golden-tinged warmth that colors my most treasured memories. Because, for this moment … for this one, delicately balanced moment in time, everything feels perfect and beautiful and “right”. Are there stresses? Yes, of course. Is there frustration? Yes, of course. But these are passing things. Underneath all of that, I am peaceful and happy and content. Most of the people I love most in the world are still in the world. The people I love the very most — my little family — are all together under one roof. My dogs are healthy and happy. Our cat is healthy and happy. Our home feels peaceful and cozy and safe from the world. We laugh and love and live.

And yet, change is out there. It is just around the corner — literally. My daughter graduated from High School in May. My dad turned 90 in May. May was a difficult month for me. Change is one heartbeat away from breezing into my life and turning everything onto its ear. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s just a thing, you know? It’s a thing that is out there and that is coming for me. And so, I have to take a deep breath. I have to say to myself, “You can do this, Girl. You can let go. You can move forward. You can find even more beautiful life up ahead.” Right now, I’m still trying to hang on to all of it with my two arms and my grabby hands. But slowly, ever so slowly, I am listening to that whisper in my heart. And I am learning to let go.

Happy Belated …

This is my very late “happy birthday USA” post. I only missed the Fourth by 7 or 8 days, so I’m within the window of birthday-ness. Right? Eh. Considering the mess that is this year and the mess that is my country right now, I think 8 days late isn’t too bad.

I’ve thought about this post a lot. I’ve thought about a lot of posts a lot. Basically, COVID, self-isolating, and the ongoing racial injustice in the United States has led to lots and lots and lots of thinking. Along with some worrying and some crying and some feeling hopeless. It’s been sort of a cycle for me. Right up until the actual fourth of July, I didn’t feel much like celebrating. In all honesty, life in general and life in this country, in particular, has begun to bear down with all the weight of despair and hopelessness it could possibly possess.

It didn’t help my mood that everything was canceled. No public fireworks. No getting together with friends. I had hoped for my parents to come visit this Summer or to visit them, but that couldn’t happen, either. Of course, people in our neighborhood set off fireworks on their own. Until the extremely wee hours of the morning. I hate neighborhood fireworks. I know I sound like the grouchiest, grumpiest grump that ever grouched. But the noise scares my dogs and makes it impossible to sleep, especially when fireworks are going off until 2 or 3AM. And I always worry about my roof catching on fire. Anxiety is not your friend, folks!

So, by necessity, it was a quiet Fourth of July for me and my family. My daughter has a friend whose family has practiced the same level of self-isolation as us, and that friend came over to spend the night. My husband grilled. And we all watched Crazy Rich Asians together. Was it the type of Fourth I would have wanted? Probably not. But it wasn’t a bad holiday. The long weekend was peaceful. My family is all safe and, so far, healthy. We are really fortunate in many ways.

That evening, I sat on my computer and read through articles about the protests happening all over the United States. I read about statues coming down and about brands changing their names. And … I don’t know … somehow, my mood improved.

I love my country. I love it very much. But I do not love all the things about it. I do not love all the things that happen in this country. In particular, I don’t love the way so many of us in this country are complacent and casual about the racism that is bone-deep here. We grow up with it, and it permeates so much of our everyday life that we get to the point where we “just don’t see it”. As a country … as a people … we have lived with and profited from this callousness and cruelty for far too long. By “we”, I mean white people like me. “Just don’t see it” just doesn’t cut it any longer. And you know what? It never should have. “Just don’t see it” was NEVER good enough. We should have seen it, all along. We should have looked for it. We should have fought to root it out and expose it to the light of day.

But now, changes are happening. Black and POC voices are being heard more than ever before. It seems like more than ever before to me, a person looking from the outside. I hope this is the truth. Because these voices need to be heard. We need to listen to these stories and face the uncomfortable truths contained within them. Protests are in the news, people are talking, and people are listening. People are learning. I hope we are all learning.

I know the changes that have happened so far are small. In the grand scheme of things and to Black and POC people who have struggled their entire lives to feel valued and respected, I imagine these changes are minuscule. But they are changes and a sign that our future has a chance of looking different than our past. Each small change … each protest … each instance of a Black or POC person feeling empowered to tell their story and speak their truth … Every one of these things gives me hope that we, as a country, can be better and do better. I have hope that the momentum will keep going. I have hope that voices will continue being heard. I have hope that we will ferret out the stink and dirt of racism at every level in this country.

Because that’s what we have to do. We HAVE to be better than we have been. We HAVE to do better than we have ever done. This country is a dream. It is a dream of a place where all are equal, all have justice, and all can live without fear. I know this sounds naive and idealistic of me, but I love that dream. I want to live in that place, where Black and POC mothers can send their children to the store without being afraid for their lives. Where Black and POC people are respected for who they are, and where Black and POC achievements are celebrated by everyone. Where Black and POC people can find justice — not justice in name only, but real and true justice. I want this dream for myself because I am a selfish person. But mostly, I want it for my daughter and for all the children of every race who are coming behind us. We owe it to them. We owe them more than what we have given.

I often think there’s nothing I can do. I feel powerless in the face of the injustice and unfairness running rampant all around me. I feel sad and hopeless. I am just one voice, and I am not the kind of voice that should be heard right now — that NEEDS to be heard right now. So I fall into the trap of thinking I should stay out of it or just stay quiet or whatever. But you know what? That’s bullshit. It’s the same thing as living with all of this my whole life and “just not seeing it”. Because I was naive and stupid as a child and a teenager and, even, as a young adult. I didn’t see it because I didn’t know what to look for. And, much as I hate to admit it, I never even thought to look for it.

I know better now. I have seen it. I know it is out there. And I know I can do something. I can listen. I can continue to learn. I can think about my own thoughts, my own actions, and my own words, and I can take care that those things reflect the true feelings and beliefs in my heart. I can — and will! — continue to have hard and uncomfortable conversations with others I encounter. In many instances, I am sorry to say I have those conversations with my own family. In the past, I might have backed down or let it go. But no more. It’s a small thing, but I can stand up each and every day. I can do better. I can be better.

My one corner of the United States is small. My reach is small. But maybe — just maybe — I can change one heart. Maybe — just maybe — I can change one person’s way of thinking. Maybe I won’t change anything, but I don’t care. I am going to hold myself accountable to continue working in whatever small way I can. Because I owe it to every Black and POC person in this country who has ever felt fear because of the way they were treated by white people … who has ever felt anger because of the way they were treated by white people … who has ever been made to feel less than human because of the color of their skin … who has ever lost a beautiful son or daughter or mother or father or anyone to the systemic racism that pervades our country.

Springing Forward

I am fashionably late with my post about Springing Forward. There is some smidgeon of irony in there, somewhere. I just know it. But this post isn’t really about our recent time change. Much as I hate both forwarding in the Spring and backwarding in the Fall, I don’t feel like talking about it right now. I’m sure this is nothing more than grumpiness brought about by my interrupted sleep schedule. I have also been hitting the caffeine a little too hard a little too late at night. This is not a good look for me. I used to be able to drink caffeinated drinks, literally, all day and all night with no ill effects. But I have to admit I’m not as young as I used to be. Age comes to us all.

I was out yesterday and the day before for an evening walk. Thanks to the time change, I can now head out around 5 or 5:30 PM and get in a 40 – 50 minute walk without fear of being caught outside alone when full dark descends upon us. Or, let’s get real: descends upon me. Because this is all about self preservation. I think this is the one thing I truly love about the Spring time change. It’s refreshing and exhilarating to be able to take a nice, long walk in the evening. There’s something oddly comforting about walking through a neighborhood when people are heading home for work. Children were playing in front and back yards all along the street. I could hear their screams of delight as I walked by. The yard were full of robins, busily bustling about their business. Here and there, the smell of dinner wafted on the breeze. It was all so sweet and lovely. I’m not sure how to explain it. It makes me feel nostalgic for things I lost and for things I never had.

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Our weather has been lovely for the past couple of days. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same. There has been sun. There has been light and breezy air. It has been chilly, but not too much so. The smell of fresh earth and newly laid mulch is in the air. Flowers are beginning to pop up: shoots of the newest green against the dark brown earth. My rose bushes and cherry tree both have buds. My mums, which die back to sticks every winter, are starting to burst out with green leaves again.

I don’t usually love the coming of Spring. In the past, Spring has meant a season of allergy suffering behind closed doors and windows. Pollen of any kind is not my friend. In the past, I would not have been able to walk around outside for any length of time without ending up suffering for it. I think my allergy shots, as much as I hate them, have helped in this respect. I still have to take meds, but at least I can go outside.

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As I walked along on Monday evening, enjoying the sounds and smells of the neighborhood around me and thinking my thoughts, it occurred to me that I felt … happy. It was such a strange feeling that I almost stopped in my tracks as it hit me. I didn’t stop, because my husband gave me an Apple Watch for Christmas. And the Apple Watch is a harsh taskmaster. Those rings MUST BE CLOSED!!!

But it surprised me, this sudden feeling of lightness in my heart and in my soul. I wanted to giggle out loud. It’s been a long time since I felt like this. For most of the last two years, I have been mired in regret and worry and uncertainty. I have felt tired and old and used up by life. I have reminded myself that I just have to keep my head down so I can continue moving forward, one painful step at a time. I guess this is my version of “Just keep swimming.” I’ve been living. But I haven’t been LIVING. Do you know what I mean?

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For the first time in a long time, I realized I was looking forward to something. I was looking forward to warmer temperatures and watching the birds and nice weather. I was looking forward to more hours of daylight and listening to children playing outside and smelling those “home” smells, like a fresh cooked meal. I was looking forward to sunshine on my face and gentle breezes and new, fresh shoots of green. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t stuck in one place. I wasn’t frozen with fear, regret, and indecision.

Are things completely certain in my life? No, not by a long shot. There is a lot of uncertainty. There is some fear, too. But my family has a direction and a purpose now. We know where we are going. Change is coming, and it will be hard. But I think it will also be good. The world around us is getting a do-over and starting fresh, and I feel like my family is doing the same thing. With all the stress and upheaval it will bring, my heart and soul need this change.

For the first time in a long time, I am looking FORWARD.

Changes …

I’m not sure what to title this post. I have been wanting to sit down and write it for a few days now, but I kept putting it off. I’m not sure why. Maybe I needed additional time to process everything. Really, I don’t think it even matters. This is just me, nattering away in my own mind. Bleh.

So remember how I posted, in January, about how I thought this year was going to be a year of change for my family? And how I felt surprisingly positive about everything? Well … you guessed it! Change is coming! And it is coming soon.

My husband found a new job. It is with a great company. I think he will love the work he will be doing, and it will give him a chance to expand his experience and career. I think there will be some terrific opportunities for him with this company. He is able to go in-house, after working at the hamster-wheel slog known as “law firm life” for most of his career. His new supervisor is great, and they have a terrific rapport. His new colleagues seem like they are all fantastic, too. Everyone seems excited for him to come into his new position. Is it perfect? No. Of course not. I am pretty convinced that “perfect” doesn’t exist in the world of jobs and job offers. There are negatives. But the positives outweigh them. I think it’s a great opportunity, and I feel relieved and positive about him taking it.

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So, of course, this means a lot of changes for my family. We are moving. My husband will start his new job at the end of April, and my daughter and I will move after her school year is done, which will be around the middle of June. It’s crazy how you can feel, for months on end, that you are marking time in a limbo period of your life and, then, in the span of just a few months, everything changes. It feels like our universe has been toppled right over onto its head or something! Not that this is a bad thing. But, after all that time spent wondering and hoping and guessing and believing, now we are in “hurry up and get all the things done!” mode.

Sadly, we won’t be moving home to our beloved Texas. I feel I have made my peace about this. My heart feels okay with it because I truly believe that, at this time, it isn’t the right place for me or for my family. I believe everything works out for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reason might be. And I also believe that, if a move to Texas had been right for us, it would have worked out. There were chances for it to happen, and it just didn’t.

Instead, we will be heading to Illinois. (Hence all the snow pictures in this post!) I have never lived in Illinois. I have never been to Illinois, other than the airport in Chicago on a lay-over. We are not moving to Chicago, but to a smaller town. And I think there is going to be a lot of winter weather and snow in our future. I went to the LL Bean winter clearance sale this past weekend and purchased a good pair of snow boots. I am now wondering if that one action on my part will be enough to change the entire weather pattern for the midwest. Because that is how my life often seems to go —  ha, ha!

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I have ALL the emotions, and they are all running on a continuous loop in my head. I am excited for my husband and for his new opportunity. I am relieved that he not only found a job, but that he was able to land what looks to be a fantastic job. I am hopeful that he will feel valued and respected in his new position. I am excited for the move. It will be a new adventure for all of us. I am looking forward to a new house. I am one of those “crazy/weird” people who loves looking at houses. And I am looking forward to life at a slower pace in a smaller town. Once we move, I should be able to go back to work, too. I am excited about this possibility.

On the flip side, I am nervous about moving our daughter. She will be a junior in high school next year, and she LOVES her current school. She is active in band and has a great group of supportive friends. I am nervous about how she will take to a new school. And I feel terrible for forcing her into the position of having to start over and make new friends. She is an amazing person, though. So far, she hasn’t been thrilled about the move. I wouldn’t expect her to be, and I understand her feelings. At the same time, she is keeping an open mind about it. I feel grateful to her and proud of her for making the effort. I know the change will be hard for her, but I am hopeful she will be able to adapt. Still … the doubts creep in.

The thought of putting myself out there for job interviews and into a work situation also terrifies me to a certain extent. I’ve been out of the job market for 15 years! I mean … yikes! Need I say more? I am scared I will hate working because I’ve become really spoiled over the years. Also, I am very introverted, which makes hanging out alone in my house the most ideal occupation for me — ever. I don’t think anyone is going to pay me to do that, though. Which is too bad.

And I feel alternately overwhelmed and terrified of the moving tasks ahead of us. We are starting in on a massive clean-out of our house. We are donating things. We are packing things away. And so on. It is long overdue, so I am glad we are doing it. But the “long overdue” part makes it feel like a gargantuan task hanging over our heads.

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But you know, even with all these nagging doubts and fears, I am still excited. Is that crazy of me? I don’t know. Maybe. But change is coming, whether I like it or not. I may as well buckle in to enjoy the ride!

A Day of Ups and Downs …

Today has been a day of ups and downs. Have you ever had one of those? It’s a hard way to live, even for a day. Because there is something I want so, so badly. And that one thing is so very nearly within reach. But maybe it isn’t possible for me to have that one thing, even though I want it so very badly. Maybe the thing I want is available and there for the taking. But maybe taking it would be a bad choice.

You see what I mean? Up and down. Up and down. Over and over again. Repeat and rewash. Ugh. It’s so frustrating.

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The thing is, I want a change. I need a change. And I think my family needs a change, too. I don’t have any empirical evidence to back this up, but I have a strong gut feeling. I also have a strong gut feeling that change is just around the corner. As a family and with regard to my husband’s job, we are at a point where change NEEDS to happen. We’re talking back up against the wall and nowhere else to go time, here.

It’s scary. And frustrating. And we have been on this train for over a year now.

I can smell change in the air. I can feel it coming toward us at full speed. Will it be our ticket to something better? Or will it just be that same old train, coming to run us under its wheels once again? Right now, it’s anyone’s guess, because we seem to be making progress toward that change … but, at the same time, we are stuck in the same old spot.

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Today, I had a few moments of giddy elation. It seemed like something definite was happening at long last. It seemed like the change we have been seeking and waiting for was right there, right within reach. And it seemed like, for once, it might actually be the change we wanted. I was so excited, my hands were shaking. I wanted to laugh and cry, all at the same time. I was giddy. That’s the only way to describe it: “Giddy”. I haven’t felt truly giddy in a long, long time.

But then, suddenly, it seemed that our coming change might not be coming at all. Within the span of a few hours, my emotions ran the gamut from unfamiliar, dizzy heights all the way back down to stomach-churning uncertainty, stress, and fear. I feel like uncertainty, stress, and fear have been my constant companions for too long. I’m tired of uncertainty, stress, and fear.

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I think that’s it: I’m just freaking tired. I want to feel excited and happy. For once, I want to feel these things without reservation. It’s not that I think things will be perfect once change comes upon us. I’m not that naive. And I don’t necessarily need “perfect”. Just … different. Or, maybe … positive. Those little things would be enough. Or maybe just stable. Maybe it would be enough for my life to be stable and simple and easy.

Change is coming. I can feel it. And I’m ready. Is it the change I want? Or is it the train, coming out of the darkness to run me down, once and for all? I have no idea. But I’m ready.

The Holiday Sneak

Christmas is a sneaky holiday. It had to be said. It’s one of those holidays where, even though you know it’s coming … Even though  you’ve known this for an entire, freaking YEAR … Even though you’ve been hearing about it for months on the radio and news and advertisements … It still manages to land in your lap before you realize what’s happening. It still manages to make you scramble and rush around to try and get things ready in time for “the big day”. It’s one of those holidays for which one can never quite feel prepared or truly ready, and so we end up just tossing out our best effort and going with what we have at the moment Christmas happens. Well, I guess most of us do that. Okay … so I do that. Every darn year. Maybe I’m the only one. I hope I’m not the only one but … yeah. I might be. My Domestic Goddess abilities are definitely lacking, both in terms of skill and level of enthusiasm.

I think part of it is that Christmas comes with so many unreasonable expectations. It’s a time of year that is fraught with emotion and longing. We have to keep moving forward in life. Always forward. We have to keep living every day and remembering how every day is precious and a beautiful gift. Except for Christmas. On that day, it’s hard to continue moving forward. We look backward, toward memories of our youth, and think about the things we have lost along the way over the course of a year. Or five. Or ten. Or twenty.

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Again, maybe this isn’t something everyone does. Maybe it’s just me. But I find myself approaching each Christmas with a bittersweet longing in my heart. The older I get, the more I think back to the Christmasses of my youth, when my whole family would gather together, and we would all be loud: eating and loving each other and playing rowdy games of dominoes and telling funny stories and laughing. Things felt perfect back then. Of course, they weren’t. Nothing is ever perfect in our lives. This is part of being human. But, I remember how full my heart felt back then. I remember the feeling of love and security that came from having my whole family around me. I remember what it felt like to belong. And I do remember thinking, somewhere deep within my little child-sized heart, how things couldn’t quite be more perfect or more glorious. Even then, as a child, there was a part of me that knew it couldn’t stay this way. Things change. We have to grow up. People leave us, even if we don’t want them to go.

For many years, I have gone to extreme lengths to recreate those childhood memories for myself each year. I’m not sure why. I guess part of it was that I wanted to recapture that warm feeling of completeness and safety. And, perhaps, part of it was that these were the things I knew. These were the things you “did” at Christmas, so it didn’t occur to me to do anything different. Each year, I would exhaust myself trying to get everything “just right”. And, of course, I would always fall short. Memories are sweet and beautiful. You can’t recreate them, not really. You can come close, but something will always be missing. Memories live in our hearts. They can’t come out to live in the real world.

This year, Christmas snuck up on me even more than usual. I love Christmas. I love the holiday spirit and the decorations and the carols and the special movies and the excitement and anticipation. I even love the mad rush to get everything done: tree, cards, decorations, baking, gifts.

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Not this year. This year, I couldn’t get past the fact that our family will be celebrating Christmas for the first time without two of our most beloved members. There is nothing like having to unwillingly say good-bye to make you realize nothing can ever, ever be the same. No matter how sweet and perfect your memories might be, they are just that: memories. They will never be real again. Living so far away from the rest of my family, I hardly ever got to see my aunts. I hadn’t been able to see my eldest aunt for at least a couple of years, because she was very ill and frail. I was lucky enough to see my other aunt, very briefly, last summer, during my annual trip home. It’s silly to miss someone you never saw any more. And yet, I do miss them. So much. Just knowing they were out there in the world somehow made my life better and complete. I can’t explain it well, but I feel set adrift by their deaths.

And so, I couldn’t muster any Christmas enthusiasm this year. I was literally at the last minute getting out my cards and my gifts that had to be mailed. I think my husband mailed them on the very last day possible for delivery before Christmas. I didn’t care about our tree. Or any of the decorations. I filled my daughter’s Advent calendar two weeks after December started. I did manage to sit down and paint it. This was my “big” decorating project for this year, and my daughter loves the results. So I suppose that’s something. I waited until the day my parents were to arrive to do any house cleaning, so that I ended up having to do the mad rush around to get the guest room cleared out and ready for them. I was wrapping gifts right up until the night before Christmas Eve. I only baked one pie. It really has been the year of the Grinch in my Christmas heart.

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But you know what this year has taught me? Christmas is going to happen, whether I choose to participate or not. Things still got done, even if they didn’t happen when I thought they should. The tree is beautiful. The decorations are up and festive. There were presents. There was a Christmas Day “feast”, cooked by my mom and me. We had a lazy, quiet day at home for Christmas: church on Christmas Eve, sleeping in a bit the next morning, presents gathered around the tree, and then my mom and I laughing and talking all afternoon as we cooked together in my kitchen. And my heart was full.

Maybe the memories of my childhood can only live in my heart. Maybe things feel bittersweet and hard sometimes because we have to keep on living, even if we don’t want to do so. Maybe things won’t ever be quite the same as they used to be. But that’s okay. It’s not what I would have chosen, but it’s beautiful in its own way. We will make new memories. We will laugh and love and make new traditions. And those will live in our hearts, too.

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.

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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.