I’ve heard it more times than I count. I’ve seen it plastered on plenty of “inspirational” and “motivational” posters. I’ve even uttered it to myself on several occasions . What am I talking about you ask? That oft-touted proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Sound familiar? Of course it does, I know I can’t be the only one who has heard this simple snippet of wisdom ad nauseum since elementary school. Regardless, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone has ever consciously set out on a journey, that this phrase (while perhaps overused) is really quite true. One doesn’t just decide to embark on a new life phase, or travel to a new place, or try something they’ve never done before. Usually it takes actually a thousand first steps and countless little decisions, that, at the time don’t really seem to have much consequence, until they start to add up, and suddenly you’re at a tipping point, at a fork in the road, where the decisions look a lot bigger and the steps look much more terrifying.
“Terrifying” is the operative word. I can almost guarantee that one day you will find yourself at such a crossroads, and from where you stand, you will see two paths stretched out before you: one path will be ease and complacency while the other will most likely be fraught with difficulty. It goes without saying that it might so very tempting to pick the easy path. It would so simple to ease on down the road, and not give a care for the rocky path, but I hope you will consider that, the rocky path, while not leveled out or cleared of debris, has more to offer than you’d think. It may not be pretty all the time, but I’m sure you will find that the rough path has a wild beauty all it’s own. You’ll see it in the rising sun after long night spent fighting off your inner demons. You’ll find it in the primrose that only blooms in the darkening twilight as shadows engulf the land. You’ll recognize it’s beauty in bittersweet moments where you feel pushed beyond your limit, but somehow find the strength to carry on. That is the allure of the difficult path.
I hope, also, that when you come to that fork in the road, you will be able to recognize all the little steps and tiny choices that somehow brought you there. You’ll notice them, and see how they prepared you and made you ready for the hard path. Granted you won’t ever feel ready, but if you are willing to take the risk, you’ll find you had what you needed all along. In the words of one of my favourite literary mentors, Joseph Campbell, I hope you’ll come to see that, “perhaps some of us have to go through the dark and devious ways before we can find the river of peace or the highroad to the soul’s destination. “ And my final hope, darling, is that every time you step out of your comfort zone, you get a little braver and dare to go a little farther.