I sat down at the computer to look at an online magazine, called Rethinking Everything, with the idea that it might inspire me to write a story of my own. I read and loved the articles, the ideals, the passion, the amazing life journeys that people are experiencing. Every story brought a “wow” to my thoughts. And then I sunk back in my chair. How can I write anything inspiring? These people are so far ahead, so incredible in their conscious choices that I can hardly compare.
I left the computer rather deflated. Oh sure, I’ve done a few things and some people have told me that I’m inspiring but when I let myself compare, I feel inadequate. I am not the perfect parent eating super healthy food, exercising daily, giving up all my possessions, trusting every moment, and being rather than doing. I do not live in the present. Ugh.
And then, while washing the dishes with as little water as possible, it hit me—baby steps. I’ve been taking baby steps; sometimes so small I’ve hardly even noticed them. A baby’s first steps are monumental but after a couple of months nobody notices that the baby is walking—it becomes normal, unremarkable activity.
When I make choices to live in extraordinary (as in beyond/outside of the ordinary) ways—breaking free from the ties of a job/income/career, not using diapers, homeschooling my kids in an unstructured environment, not coercing/controlling my children, eating a mostly vegan diet, living in an RV, not owning a television, cutting my own hair—while living with those choices daily and for a period of time, they begin to become ordinary or “extra”-ordinary (as in super duper more ordinary than ever), run-of-the-mill…haven’t I always lived like this?
I have to remind myself of where I came from in order to see who I’ve become and recognize the obstacles I’ve overcome and the baby steps I’ve taken toward my ideals. I haven’t arrived here in leaps and bounds. It’s been a gentle evolution including a combination of inner transformation and outer transition, and I recognize that I am only part way along in my journey.
Even though I’ve done some big things, my life feels pretty regular and average. I plod along. I see a gap. I make changes. I experience discomfort. I adjust. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I could almost say that it’s boring, except that those times when I challenge myself to see something in a different way or try something new or change an old habit, I am jolted into an exciting time, a time of possibility and hope for myself, for mankind, for the planet. As long as I stay awake and keep open to the clues around me, I am aware of the usefulness and purpose of my life.
My heart guides me, my head creates a plan, my hands do the work, and my feet keep me moving forward and upward on the path. Up toward where care and appreciation for everything and everyone is universal. Up to an idealistic—synonymous with naïve, unrealistic, romantic, impractical and optimistic—utopia of love and joy.
I imagine our collective consciousness as a staircase. I like stairs because they require my will to apply energy while offering the luxury to choose my own pace. Sometimes, like a child, I play on the steps—holding the railing and stretching my legs way up to take two or three at a time or sliding down several on my butt. I’ve also been known to jump off the last few steps in a deep blissful plunge to the bottom.
At times on my way up, I’ve lost my balance and somersaulted down through shrieks of shock and horror. I’ve seen others traumatically pushed down and then catapulted up many steps as if by magic. Some people find a way to fly up the staircase and I admire their lightness. Those above reach back and encourage me with a book, a movie, a play, a song, a painting, a hug, a conversation.
Most often when I ascend the staircase, I am like a toddler planting each foot with purpose. Just as when I learned to walk, I am conscious of my entire foot—my footprint—whether it is embedded in the soft cushion of a carpet, atop the subtle memory of concrete, imprinted in the black soil of a garden, or traipsing along a woodsy path. My foot…steps…alone…and connects me…to everything.
On each new step, I want to shout, “Look at me! I did it!” I look to those ahead for inspiration. And as I climb with gaining confidence, I long for others to feel and share my delight, to look around, to look up. I want to tell everyone about it. I turn with a bright mischievous smile, engaging them to catch me, hoping they will.
It doesn’t matter where I am on the staircase. I remind myself to look to others for guidance or to offer my help, rather than to compare our distances travelled. And I know that baby steps will get me there, get all of us there, in good time.