Some days just picking up that first foot to take that first step is a chore. You know what I’m talking about, when your foot and your leg just feel heavy and your hip is tight and walking feels more like a drudge than a prance. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, good for you.
What gets us through those days is moving. Simply taking the next step and then the next. There are of course days that we rise with a song in our head and verve in our heart and on those kind of days it is shear momentum that moves us forward. We just go without thinking about our steps. But on the other kind of days, when each step is arduous, it is simply taking the next step that keeps us moving forward.
I have been watching bumble bees lately. I guess there are different kinds that make up the hive, each with a particular function, but the bumble bees sent out to forage for food are slowing way down this time of year. Sometimes they just stop where they are as if an unwound toy. I’ve seen a few this year creeping across my porch unable to heft their bulbous bodies with their wings any more. They don’t give up, they just keep inching along toward wherever their GPS is pulling them, until they can’t any longer.
The secret for us, whether foraging or home in the hive, is the simple mechanics of taking the next step. It moves us forward and then, step by step, we find ourselves suddenly encountering someone or something we hadn’t expected and that adds a new momentum and a changed trajectory. Something so simple as a step, one step followed by another, really changes everything.
Twelve Step recovery groups are founded upon this core principle: one step at a time. What gets the initiate in recovery in trouble is trying to look or anticipate life and events beyond that next step. Instead it is one foot in front of the other, sometimes even one minute in front of the next.
I have been thinking about this because whatever your take on the news of late, whether you cheer the prosecution of insurrectionists and fake-elector schemes or see them as heroes and rue the legal system, the news has been grinding. The war in Ukraine is suffering in slow motion as are the sorrows of Sudan, alongside storms and earthquakes hungrily consuming vast expanses of populated regions.
Jackie Augustine had a series of columns this summer about the importance of City Council using the Comprehensive Plan for annual goal-setting rooted in the elements and values of that plan. She also pointed out several times that it seems as if some of the counselors haven’t even read the plan and Council has not set annual goals in concert with it either. But she doesn’t give up on them — or us. She just keeps holding up the task and the challenge.
One step at a time. One action at a time. No matter how small. Meet a need, advocate for someone, contribute something, change a bad habit, look your love in the eyes and cherish her or him. Steps build momentum and things happen we could not have planned. It’s how it works — one step at a time.