Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"A Journey of a Thousand Miles . . .

. . . begins with the first step." 

These words (or something like these words) were spoken 2,600 years ago by Lao Tzu. It's unlikely you haven't read or heard them before. It's a pretty popular quote.

Here are some questions for you.

What is YOUR journey of a thousand miles?

What is the first step you need to take to begin the journey?

Why haven't you taken it, yet?

What's holding you back or stopping you?

We are all familiar with the analogy of life being a journey. But, within life's journey there are all kinds of smaller journeys that may actually be considered the stepping stones to the destination of the ultimate life journey. I could create a list of these smaller journeys that would probably be endless, but here are some examples:
  • Graduating high school
  • Transitioning from youth to adulthood
  • Secondary education or professional/occupational training
  • Finding a mate/life partner
  • Starting a family
  • Raising a family
  • Starting a career
  • Starting a business
  • Advancing a career
  • Growing a business
  • Finding the right place to live
  • Finding the right home/apartment/condo
  • Investing for the future and retirement
  • Downsizing possessions, home, thinking
  • Economizing
  • Simplifying life
  • Eliminating all debt financial or other obligations
  • Discovering your gifts, talents, abilities and the work one loves
  • Attaining personal freedom and independence (by individual definition)
  • Enjoying true happiness and joy on a near continual basis
  • Living in a state of peace of mind and contentment
You get the picture, I'm sure. Each of these is a journey we may choose to take in life. Perhaps we've never approached them from the perspective of them being personal journeys. But, each begins somewhere and ends, hopefully, somewhere in a better circumstance. Each requires an initiative to make the first step toward reaching the destination or goal. Each may have a distance of a thousand miles, more or less, figuratively speaking, of course, to the destination or goal.

Taken literally, Lao Tzu's "journey" might be that of going from one place in China to another place in China or to some other country a thousand miles away. Of course, if you think about it, this quote has been Anglicized since there was no such thing as miles during Lao Tzu's time. The word came from the Latin and was used in various forms primarily throughout Europe and the North American continent. But, we understand the meaning, don't we?

We embark on some of these journeys as a matter of course. We follow similar paths to those who have traversed the "terrain" before us. Other journeys are very individual and, often, very personal. Most all of them are arduous and may even involve some physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and financial pain. Perhaps one of the reasons we don't embark on some of the journeys is because, as humans, we are conditioned to avoid pain. Even though arriving at the destination or goal my bring great pleasure, humans will very often forego the potential of pleasure to avoid the detractor of pain.

Can you reflect on some journeys you've already taken and reached the destination or goal and enjoyed the pleasures awaiting you. As I have been writing this article I reflected back on a physical journey I took several years ago to enjoy spending important time with some family and friends. I didn't have to go on this journey. I wanted to go. I endured some significant discomfort, inconvenience and even, some physical, emotional and psychological "pain" during the travel part of the journey. I complained bitterly about it. Now, as I look back and after writing this article, I realize that, absolutely, the discomfort and inconveniences I endured were a small price for the pleasure I gained by reaching my destination.

So, go back and look at the four questions I posed at the beginning of this article? Can you answer them for yourself . . . honestly? Today is the first day of the rest of your life . . . and that journey of a thousand miles and all the adventure, intrigue, excitement, danger, etc. is just awaiting your first step.

If you like this article and, hopefully, gained some insight from it, let me know with a comment here on the blog or on the Living Free Facebook page or on Google+. I'm sure you know someone else who might gain from reading this article, too, so please share it. 


Richard Rosen said...

It's beneficial from time to time to look back on all the way life has taken you and assess whether or not you continue in the optimal way to develop your reason, morals and ethics - and finally and ultimately - spiritual insight and living thereby.

Good list to begin such a review. We do not want to quit this life without having become all that we are capable of becoming. We are in control to do those things to live optimally.

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Absolutely, Richard. Thanks for your additional insight.