Next First Step
Updated: Oct 3, 2021
I love walking. I used to walk all the time. It was my escape, my calm, and a way to center myself and organize my thoughts. I don't walk as I used to when I lived in the U.S. I could walk for hours breathing in the clean air on the curved walkways and the treelined trails. Now that I live in Indonesia, the hot, muggy weather, crowded streets, and lack of sidewalks keep me inside. I walk indoors on the treadmill, but it's just not the same as my cherished outdoor walks on the other side of the world.
But today, I decided to give it a try and went on an outside walk. As I mentioned, it was hot, crowded, and busy. Despite that, I found myself caught up in the scenery as I was walking through the streets of Jakarta. I saw the street vendors, tall buildings, the mass of scooters, beggars, beautiful flowers, trees, street cats, lizards, and more. In particular, the leaves on the ground sparked my memory and reminded me of the leaves that would crunch under my feet while walking in America. It caused me to reflect on how far I've come in my walking journey. I let my mind wander to the first walk I took by myself. It was during a tough time in my life that left me with mixed feelings of wanting to stay in bed all day or wanting to escape everything. I was working full-time, and I had a family to take care of, so neither was an option, and I decided to take one step at a time. Literally.
I am a natural-born scaredy-cat, and venturing on a walk by myself wasn't something I'd typically do, but for the sake of my mental health, I knew I had to do something. On my first walk, I walked around my block once. The next day I walked around it twice, and the following day, three. It wasn't long before I wore out my shoes, walking around my block. I would turn on my music and walk fast until I was ready to come home. Soon, I started walking early in the morning before my kids got up. Sometimes I would walk twice a day so that I could see the sunrise and the sunset. It felt good, but I never ventured from my block because I was comfortable.
I've heard it said that when you're comfortable, you're not growing, and I found this to be true.
I grew as much as I could walking around my block, and now it was time to take a step towards something else so I could grow - and that's exactly what I did. Something about the other side of the street caught my attention. It fascinated me, and after a couple of weeks, I gained the courage to cross the street and take my next first steps. I started walking on unfamiliar ground, and with every step, I gained courage. It wasn't long before I was walking miles and miles of trails throughout my neighborhood.
Taking that first step caused me to get out of my comfort zone, gain courage, and allowed me to move forward.
Since then, I have traveled the world and have walked in places I never imagined my fearful self would go. I've walked where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River valley, hiked to the mountain tops of Petra, walked the ancient grounds of the Roman Colosseum, climbed the holy steps of Scala Sancta, navigated the narrow steps leading to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, hiked the many, many steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower, crossed London's famous Tower Bridge, explored the hills of St. Thomas USVI, shuffled along the insanely crowded streets of Tokyo, explored the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, descended below the surface to the wet and rocky ground of cenotes in Mexico, and now the sidewalk-less streets of Jakarta.
My walk today was a good reminder of how far I've come in my walking journey and my life journey.
I'm not perfect, and life has been far from easy, but along the way, I've taken steps to stand up for what's right, to choose grace, and to ask for forgiveness. I've taken steps to move forward, to say no, and to ask for help. I've nervously taken the first step to start new jobs, go back to school, and set boundaries. I've taken steps to write books, take trips, and speak even when my voice shakes.
Regardless of where it's leading, taking the first step is usually scary, especially when you feel like it's impossible to move - but it is crucial. It may not feel like much at first, but each brave step allows you to move forward and gives you the courage to navigate through whatever life throws at you.
My hope for you is that you take your next first step today, wherever it leads because it is worth stepping out of your comfort zone for.