A single step feels both enormous and insignificant. Whether it’s an actual footstep, the beginning action of something, a small part of a process or even a decision to start; it’s one step. It takes stringing the steps together, putting one foot in front of the other over and over again, day in and day out- often tirelessly- to get somewhere. To create something. To change one thing in your life. To change your entire life.
This isn’t easy. Playing the piano or speaking French. Running 3 miles or writing a book. Falling in love or building a relationship. It is not enough to begin, you need to keep going every day. Continue to do the work and keep taking steps.
It’s so easy to slow down, or to take a day off. Then a week off. Just like that, it’s too cold outside to run. I think that I’ll have more energy tomorrow. And suddenly, it feels easier to imagine writing than it does to actually write, because writing means having something to say. And what if I have nothing to say?
And sometimes, life gets in the way. Situations we don’t plan for, unexpected changes, endings and beginnings.
I feel like I’ve had a lot of endings and beginnings in the last several years. Times when I ask myself, “Now what?”
I’m at one of those times now, and not just because it’s a new year. I’m still in my apartment, in my town, in my job. But the direction I thought my life was taking suddenly veered off course, and I’m left with needing to figure out not only a new plan, but a new direction for my future.
The only answer I can come up with to the question of- “How do you figure out your life direction when you don’t know where to go?” is: start taking steps.
I want to string together enough steps so I can get myself somewhere, even if, right now, I’m not sure where that should be. Once I start moving, I think I might find some answers.
After the vagueness about taking steps and life changes and finding direction, here is something concrete: I want to take a walk this summer. A 500 mile walk.
There is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain; these routes are called El Camino de Santiago, or, The Way of St. James. The most popular route is the Camino Francés, beginning in France and stretching 780 km to Santiago.
People walk for many reasons: a religious or spiritual journey, a test of physical endurance, a mental and emotional challenge, a great adventure. Some walk only parts of the route, some bike, some (a few) even bring donkeys.
I don’t know what the Camino will look like for me, and I don’t even know if I will be able to do it. Not only is there a question of time and money, but there’s a question of whether I can walk 6-10 hours a day for 30-40 days. Can my body handle the steps it takes to walk 500 miles? Can my mind handle it?
These are questions I want to try to answer. I’m asking myself a lot of questions lately, and I’m seeking direction. Maybe I’m even seeking my path, and the Camino feels like a good place to begin.
And even though I’m not on the path yet, I’m taking my first steps now. I want to talk about the idea of this journey- the reasons I want to walk and the planning it will require, the obstacles I’ll face and the adventure of it all. Maybe throughout this I’ll find my direction. At the very least, I hope I find a few good stories.