Today’s food for thought is on goals, steps, and waiting places. Consider:
What if life is a series of stepping with waiting places in between the steps?
You start with an end goal in mind, something you can (at least kind of) see at the end of the road — a paper for school, starting a business, getting your teen (or parent!) to listen, something health-related, starting a new training or degree program, or some other project or thing you want to accomplish. It seems like an amazing idea (or at least a decent one and you need something to do). And so you start down the road.
The first part feels kind of easy, it seems to flow. The steps feel sure and your burden is light. You’re cruising down the road, singing to the radio, and having a pretty good time. Then things start to get uncomfortable.
Maybe you notice it all once — things are suddenly feeling and seeming harder, the view doesn’t seem as clear. You remind yourself of the end destination and you notice a niggle of “why am I doing this again?” in the back of your mind.
Or maybe you start to notice you’re feeling just a little bit tired, a little bit slower. You chalk it up to the fact that you’ve been walking for a while. You just need a bit of a rest; things will feel better tomorrow, of course. And maybe they do or maybe they don’t.
You find yourself a week or so down the road and the view seems to be a little more cloudy, a little less clear. You remind yourself of the end destination again and it picks your spirit up for a moment. Then things feel heavier again and you wonder if you’re going in the right direction. Maybe this trip wasn’t such a good idea after all.
In most cases, you keep plodding, at least for a little while longer. Other times, you sit down then and there or even turn back around.
When stopped, you look around, wondering where you are and why in the world you’re walking. Where were you going again? You can’t really even remember (or maybe you vaguely remember but the end goal feels laughable now, like something you heard about once but that seems like something that only other people can do or a place only other people can visit). You feel tired and lost and wonder if you should just sit down and stay there forever, or maybe run back the way you came. It all feels uncomfortable and heavy. Will it ever change? It feels like it’s been like this for as long as you can remember.
This is the waiting place.
I bet pretty much everyone has been here before. A lot of times I’ve abandoned the journey here or even before, when things started to feel heavier and uncomfortable.
It’s hard when things start to feel heavy, uncertain, confusing, uncomfortable. Aren’t we’re told we should know where we’re going at all times? Sometimes it feels like that (at least to me). No one really talks about what you do when you don’t know what to do, when you feel uncomfortable. They never show that in the movies or if they do, it’s for a brief moment, there are tears, and then there is a flash of light with an epiphany. Hurrah! Life makes sense again! But, I don’t think life is much like the movies, at least in my experience.
What I do know? The waiting place is a critical part of any journey. You have to go through it; you can’t go around it, skipping it completely.
Maybe it helps us build character or makes us stronger or some other BS phrase. I don’t know. What I do know is that when I hit this place, when things feel heavy, uncomfortable, and uncertain, the only thing to do is to eventually put one foot in front of the other, in the direction I think makes sense. Or at least in a direction that isn’t from the one I just traveled. And then to step again and step again.
Sometimes the waiting place seems to go on for a long, long time. Sometimes it goes by pretty quickly. If I don’t start taking steps, however small, I’ll eventually find myself back in it or that I’ve never left. The only way out is to start moving. Most of the time I have to will my feet to move and keep my eyes on my feet to make sure they actually are moving.
Eventually, it strikes me that the ground looks different. Looking up, I notice the view is changing, that things feel different. And then I might realize I’m on the brink of arriving at my goal or maybe I already did and somehow missed it, engrossed in the stepping. And maybe, just maybe, the stepping was the most important thing all along, what the journey was all about, rather than the end destination. And actually, the stepping had a beauty in it and was kind of fun, if I get honest with myself. I stepped, I walked, I went somewhere.
And then the next thing to do is to continue stepping down the road. Part of me feels scared thinking of future waiting places. Yet a bigger part somehow knows it will be okay, that I just need to keep stepping, and in doing so, I’ll be able to make it wherever I want to go.