One of the most important lessons you can ever learn is this. One step at a time. It's a lesson that will bring you through almost anything.
It doesn't really matter how big or challenging a situation may seem to be. There is always a baby step you can take that will generate some momentum and that if you take it, will bring you to a place where you can see with improved perspective what the next step is, and the next.
I say all this with complete authority because I have proved this lesson in my own life and, of course, you have too. All we have to do is observe nature. Nature doesn't make a tree in a single giant bound. It starts small. It begins the process with a seed, a seed so small you might think how can that ever amount to anything?
How JoAnn and I got started
Since my wife, JoAnn, and I got married 15 years ago we have built a life together that we love and that is a true boon to each of us in our latter years. But it began, like any relationship, as a tiny seed, and has taken a ton of baby steps to arrive at the place where it is now.
At the time we first become aware of each other, JoAnn lived in Denver, and I was living like a hermit in a small room in an apartment block in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was in my 60’s and in a complete funk about what to do with my life following the collapse of the spiritual community in BC that had been my home for 36 years.
A long-distance relationship
I met JoAnn in 1995 at a retreat in Colorado and we began a long-distance relationship. It was interesting, it was challenging, it was wonderful. It was one baby step after another. We went for a holiday in Hawaii and it worked out okay, except that JoAnn tried to drink all the champagne the first night. We were more ambitious and went to UK to visit my Dad, then in his 90’s, and except when JoAnn tried to help in his kitchen it worked out okay too.
We got even more bold. After we had been corresponding for a while we decided we wanted to live together, but I didn’t want to come to the US illegally, and JoAnn couldn't move to Canada because of her allergies.
We were in a situation so many people have been in. Then JoAnn offered to “sponsor” me for a temporary visa that would allow me to move to Denver and live with her for I think it was 60 days, at the end of which time we would either be married or I would need to return to Canada.
“It sounds drastic”
We had progressed to a certain point in our relationship but what we were talking about now was a big step. It wasn’t a baby step at all. I remember talking with a friend in BC who shook his head and warned, “It sounds drastic, Chris."
I had to agree with him. It was drastic, as real change usually is. I had lost so much that was familiar and that had given me my “roots,” a sense of community, a sense of home, a marriage that had ended with sudden death and bereavement.
If I moved to America I would lose even more of my “roots” – wouldn’t I? But on the other hand, it might make it possible for me to put down new roots I couldn’t even imagine yet.
We both took one step at a time
One step at a time. I thought about it, and agonized about it, and then one day I decided, “Why not at least apply for the entry visa? There’s no harm in that. See what happens. They may not even want you in the country.”
It was a baby step but a manageable step.
At the same time, JoAnn, of course, had also wrestled with what was a very big step for her, opening up her small home to me, sharing her precious resources, satisfying the authorities that she could and would sponsor me. But JoAnn has always been very good at taking “one step at a time.”
It’s the only way to live
One step at a time. It’s the only way to live. What other way to live is there? As I've been trumpeting for weeks now, I have a new book in the works, Aging into Bliss. I’ve been talking about this book and thinking about it and working on it for what seems a small eternity. Actually launching it into the world will be exciting but also scary.
But – I remind myself, and JoAnn reminds me -- one step at a time. Maddi, the wonderfully talented designer who has been designing the book for me will send me the finished PDF version any day now and then we’ll see what the next step is.
Actually, I think I know what the next step will be. I’d like to forget about the book for a few days. It’s been a lot of work, and a little relaxation would be fine by me.
How about you? What baby step -- or big step --are you taking in life right now? I’d love to hear from you. Your life is important to me. Best wishes and please write.
Picture credit: sean dreilinger