Sunday, January 16, 2011

All It Takes Is One Step

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Taking the first step.

It sounds so easy.  Just put your foot out there.  It's just one step.  No big commitment.  No "marathon journey" to endure.  No need to whomp up a bunch of courage.  Just begin.  "Just Do It".

And a part of us says, "Sure - I can do that!.  Don't know where I'm going?  Don't know what I'm doing?  No problem!  Just call me "Mr. Trailblazer" - I love surprises!"

But the older I've gotten, and the more honest I've learned to be about myself, the clearer I've seen that "taking the first step" is something more easily said than done.  That despite all of the apparent "trailblazing" that I've done in my life:  as the oldest child, first to graduate from college; as a teacher, "captain of my own ship" everyday in my classroom; as a "world traveler" to places distant and beautiful; as a man, single and "carefree" for most of my adult life - most of the time I have been pretty reluctant to actually venture out and do something, learn something completely new.  I've hugged the shores of the known, the familiar, the comfortable pretty closely.

It's said that one must "take a leap of faith", but now I think it's that idea - that faith requires a giant "summoning of one's will", a great act, "a leap" - that prevents us from actually practicing being truly faithful as often as we could.  All it really takes is one step; one act; a willingness to step into the unknown or sit in a silent moment of indecision, and to try to not do what we've always done.

And if I can, oh what gifts there are there!  What possibilities!  And along with this can come the discovery that "having faith" did not ever require me to imagine a desired outcome, or "wish upon a star".  Faith simply requires me to act - not think about acting - and then to be open to receive whatever came next.

So I'm sure you're asking, what inspired all of these lofty thoughts?  I'm not sure. I know that sitting down in front of this blank page always requires some faith (What the heck will I write about now?  How will it come out?).

I know that the times I've taken that step up the "staircase I can't see" have been the moments I now most remember:  stepping off the plane in Ireland for the first time; moving to southern Oregon; my first date with Deborah; rafting down the Rogue River for the first time (and bouncing off the rocks, again with my brave coxswain Deborah); asking her to marry me a year later; giving a toast at my brother Dave's wedding last year; accepting a student's dare to sing a Justin Bieber song in front of my A.P. Economics class this December (and then seeing the video of it "go viral" on YouTube minutes later!)

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. (Anais Nin)

Here's to taking more of those "first steps" in my life - and to discovering some hidden pearls along the way.

1 comment:

  1. Good Morning Jon~ I found your blog via a link on Deb's FB page and I'm glad I clicked over. Beautiful, warm blog! I love the quote you wrote a few posts back by Dostoevsky and counting our joys. So true. And the quote by Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorites. You're right ~ it's so easy to hug the same familiar shore and not take the first step into a new adventure. That's very heavy on my mind lately. Thanks for the insight. I'll be back. ~ Amy in the Nevada desert