“The only step you ever need to complete your whole life’s mission
is the one right in front of you.”
Years ago, a friend gave me this bit of advice. “If one person tells you to turn around and look behind you, you can ignore them. If a second person tells you to turn around and look behind you, you’d better stop and look.”
Today I have my marching orders, my second message (The quote above). I must move forward to accomplish daily tasks and pursue my dreams.
How many times have I thought about doing something, then thought, maybe I should eat lunch first, get my hair cut, take a walk…. If you’re anything like me, you can cover pages with excuses. There is always one excuse sitting on the tip of my tongue, just waiting to tell me why I can’t do something. One of my most intimidating questions is: What if so-and-so disapproves, challenges me, or gets angry? Do you rely on those excuses too?
I got the first message yesterday while reading The Traveler’s Gift,2 a novel about a man facing several disastrous situations in his life and feeling hopeless. He is in an auto accident and while unconscious dream-travels to visit seven historic people who give him advice, which he heeds and becomes rich and famous.
While all the advice is valuable, and I need to heed every word, the sentence that startled me into action was this one by Christopher Columbus; “If you are afraid of criticism, you will die doing nothing.” In other words, do what feels right, no matter what other people say. Where would we be if Columbus had accepted the common knowledge of his day that nothing except ocean existed east of Spain? I don’t know about you, but I’ve stepped back from many challenges and opportunities because I was afraid of what someone else would say or do.
My urge is not to discover the New World, but simply to share my thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts are lofty or spiritual. Other times, I just wonder if someone else is thinking the same things. If I am wrong and put my ideas out in the ether, will someone explain my mistake? It doesn’t matter. I remember a saying from my work place about new ideas, “Throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. If it doesn’t stick, try something else.”
My job from this day forward is to simply do as Beck and Andrews suggest: take the first step and don’t worry about what other people think. That’s hard for most of us, but a challenge we need to accept. And – if you catch me falling back into “What will people say?”, please gently remind me to take a step forward.
P.S. I was planning to edit this first, then go out to empty the trash and check the mail. Luckily, I followed my instinct and went out first. I wasn’t back in the house five minutes when thunder began booming loud enough to shake the house. Almost immediately rain began coming down in sheets and the trees swaying. Had I not taken that first step I would now be outside in the dangerous weather instead of inside writing to you.
Spirit: When I feel afraid to take the first, or second, step to follow the path that seems right for me, please remind me that if I don’t try, I’ll die doing nothing. Also, that criticism never killed anyone. And, so it is.
1 Compass Points by Martha Beck, firstname.lastname@example.org, August 30, 2018
2 Andrews, Andy, The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002