The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step

The saying goes that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and so does a journey of a single step, by the way. The problem for me however, was that all my life, I just wanted the thousand miles. I dreamed of those thousand miles. I had no patience for a single step because, no matter how hard I tried to string steps together, they never added up to anything near a thousand miles.

And so I stopped taking the single step. What use is there in a single step, I thought, when I know I will never make it to a thousand miles. The way I was, I could not even make three or four steps in a row, let alone one single mile—a thousand miles? Forget it!

Bottom line: the way I saw things, a single step without at least gaining a second step from it, and from that a third, and then a fourth step and so on in succession, is wasted effort; a waste of even that single first step. That was then. Now, the way I see things, I see that this is not the case at all. Before telling you how I came to that realization, I would first like to share with you a little of my own journey towards this change in attitude.

Having read how my attitude used to be, you won’t be surprised to learn that I became very good at getting nowhere in this program. I excelled at making no progress for a very long time. I was well known for it. I was the person in the group your sponsor would point to as “Exhibit A”—the person you least wanted to become.

It’s important for me to say here that my failures were not because I did not go to meetings. I went to a lot of meetings. My failures were not because I did not make program calls. I made a lot of phone calls. But there was one prevailing attitude—an old idea, that I needed to let go of if I was to have any chance of getting well. I was going to have to be patient, and appreciate, and celebrate each little step of the way: each little victory, each day at a time, each step of the way—no matter how insignificant it seemed—I was going to have to embrace it and celebrate it.

No more obsessing about the journey’s end, looking back from a thousand miles’ distance. I consciously embraced every step, every little victory that recovery was bringing me. I was beginning to appreciate the value of a single step in its own right, whether or not there was a second step or a third or a fourth to follow; it no longer mattered. No, I was not tricking myself into traveling a journey of a thousand miles. I was genuinely learning to appreciate every moment, every victory, and every step for the accomplishment it was (and still is).

Do I need to tell you the end of the story? Or do you already know it? I began having multiple journeys that led from single steps, one after another. I progressed to where I could travel five journeys of a single step … in a row! Then 10. Then 30. Then 180. And along with 180 journeys of a single step, came a 180 degree change in my life. After 180 journeys of a single step, something new woke up within me, and for the very first time, I realized that if I chose to keep taking and embracing the journeys of a single step, I, Mr. Hopeless, could (potentially) travel by single steps forever. I let go of my lifelong dream of gaining a thousand miles and I traded it for the length of a single step.

And guess what? One day, not too long later, I looked behind me (for just a moment!) and I saw that I had long since passed the thousand mile marker. Long since passed. And I never even realized. Go figure.

Shim F., New Jersey, USA

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