Friday, November 2, 2012

The First Step

Lao Tzu said that any long journey begins with the first step. For some people, it can be hard to decide to take the journey. But I think most people become discouraged somewhere around the middle. They look ahead, and what they see is that the destination is still a long way off. I tend to be one of those "middle stayers."

Link to the colored version of this image:

Consistency is a character trait that seems to be lacking in this day and age. It might have to do with the idea that only change is constant, as mentioned by Heraclitus. With everything changing so much, it is hard to be consistent, what more with the rush of the Information Age. Everything comes in quick packets. It's all about fast: fast food, fast way to get rich, fast way to communicate, fast speed dating, fast cars, fast progress, fast fast fast. And with everything going fast, you are expected to keep up the pace, but if you try to sprint before you can crawl you will obviously end up tripping a lot.

And the thing is, it is fast because we want it fast. We want to see immediate rewards for the things we do. When we "do good for the world," we shout "NOW, NOW NOW!!!" And when we don't get what we want, we whine and complain and bicker. We may even give up. But we have to realize that nothing, if it is significant, ever gets finished overnight. A seed takes years to grow into a tree. The foundation of a building takes days to weeks to make. Even supporters of evolution and the big bang theory say it took millions and billions of years before humans even began to exist. And for a creationist, it took 6 days before God decided to create man. Point being, everything takes time.

Everything takes time. And when we don't realize the value of time, we lose a lot of value elsewhere. And shortcuts don't work. You try baking a one-hour cake in 30 minutes and you'll have a different recipe on hand. To do the job right, you have to prescribe it down to the letter: how you do it, and how much time you spend on it. Rushing one thing just to rush on the next thing on your list will probably tire you out. So it’s a lot better if you invest your time on what you're doing now then to think of what you're going to do tomorrow. When you're done with the "now," you can easily move on to the "next."

Of course, things are easier said than done. When you're in the middle of the road, you've probably used up all your energy, and giving up seems like a very, very tempting release from the difficulties of the journey. You won't always have what you need along the way (either through using it up or just not being able to get it at the moment). It is during these times that you have to stop and ask for help. Yes, it may be embarrassing, but you never complained about crying when you were a baby. We all fall at times, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't get up. And sometimes, we need that extra pull from a friend to stand up again.

Which brings me back to the beginning. Every time you fall, it’s like the end, but every time you get up, it’s a new beginning. You take that first step again, and continue on that long journey. Because unless you walk (or drive or fly or swim or discover a tear in the fabric of the universe), you're not going to get to where you want. You need to act. You need to choose to act. You have to get moving. You have to keep moving forward. You have to consistently decide on going, because whether you realize it or not, your one step closer to your goal.

Words of the Wise:

1) Remember you Goal

Every step makes part of the race, but if you don't head for the finish line, you're not going to finish that race.

2) Stay Sharp

Whenever you take on a journey, you have to prepare. Don't forget to pack all you will need on the way, and be ready for those unexpected road bumps. How? Expect them.

3) Stay Positive

A good attitude goes a long way. Sure, there will bumps along the way, but there is also smooth terrain.  The road may be different for some people, but there will always be blessings along the way.

4) Run with a friend

No man is an island. Be willing to share this journey with others (family is a good start). Tell them of your triumphs. Tell them of your failures. It's not wise to stay lonely. Share with someone.

5) Go for the win

If you aren't going for the gold, why bother? Run to succeed. Be content with the result, and strive for perfection. Remember, as long as you can still run, you can still run.

*Updated November 27, 2013