A wise Chinese philosopher Laozi in his works, Tao Te Ching wrote the line “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Was that really wise or was it more an over simplification of the effort and preparation that goes into any large project; a pep talk telling you that “Hey, this is going to be easy, just start walking.” Well, if I am going to take a trip, I guess I would want some idea of where I want to go. Once years ago, I said to my wife “Let’s be spontaneous and take an unplanned trip.” She said “That sounds adventurous, OK let’s go… Where are we going?” and I in my manliest voice said “Woman, we go that way!” I kind of felt like Lewis telling Clark “we don’t need Sacajawea, I will get us there.” Now my wife, skeptical, feeling like a homesteader heading west, was ready for the unknown challenges of the great vast of the state of Minnesota. Little did she know, and I wasn’t about to divulge my scheme, I had a predetermined destination in mind. Yes, I had the route planned out, where we were going to stay each night and the things we would do along the way. Each time we arrived at the place I had planned for us to stop at I would say something like, “Hey, did you see that sign? I think we should check it out…we really have nowhere else to be.” well not at least until we needed to be at the next location I had planned. Did this journey start with a single step? In her mind it may have and I played it up the best that I could that it was totally off the cuff. We had a great time and talked fondly of the time we took a trip “That way”.
It took a lot of work and planning to make that little excursion seem to be unplanned, easy, and starting with just a single step. I had looked at options for places to go for weeks ahead of time, I checked out visitor guides, road maps, hotels, and tourist destinations. I made phone calls to be sure that we had reservations. Even my wife did more than just jump in the car and go, she had to pack, and she had to line up a baby sitter. Before we left town we stopped for gas, all of this was not just taking a single step, all this was done before we could take the single step.
Sometimes, we over simplify things to fool ourselves into believing that it will be easy. Really, would you get excited if for weeks before going on vacation, you had to spend countless hours planning, packing, preparing, and doing all sorts of unpleasant duties before you even got into the car to go on vacation? Oh…we do.
I guess that when it comes to things that generally have a pleasant expected outcome we will, as my grandmother used to say, “Walk through a few bushes to get to a picnic.” What about the times when we are unsure of the outcome or know that the journey will be less than pleasant, will it be simple, will it be easy? I can guarantee you that most times we can be successful with the right mindset and the willingness and stick-to-it-ness to see it through. There also will be times when we doubt our abilities and determination to finish the race and we may not succeed. We need to prepare and plan and layout a strategy to reach our destination, but will it be as easy as taking a single step?