One Step At A Time

I was looking at our living room this morning and my heart sank. I’ve been having a lot of fun messing around with art and drawing apps for my iPad, as well as designing some wedding stationary for my daughter and her fiancee, and I’ve been scattering bits of paper and “stuff” all over the floor. And the room intended for all this wonderful creative work is even messier. What to do? Where to start?

One step at a time.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of a task, or unsure where to start. Sometimes the whole picture seems too big to know where to begin to look. Sometimes it seems easier just not to start.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao-Tzu

Nearly nineteen years ago I began a journey that literally began with one step. I was about to be discharged from the Spinal Injuries Unit in a wheelchair, unable to even stand. I had a little movement in my right leg but not enough to use functionally. I was unable to even pull myself to standing. Yet one afternoon in the gym, challenged by the other patients, I did just that. The physios didn’t think it possible, but said if I could stand they would place me between the parallel bars with a callipur on my left leg and help me walk. And I did. I pulled myself to standing for a few seconds before collapsing. True to their word, the physios put my left leg in a full length callipur and placed me beteween the bars. The callipur kept my left leg rigid, my arms took the rest of my weight and I lifted my right leg to take my very first step.

Some say that Lao-Tzu’s words are best translated as beginning your journey with the ground under your feet. That’s pretty much what I did, and still do. I focus on the step that I am taking now. I’m not thinking about whether I’m improving or whether I’ll be able to throw one or both crutches away. I’m thinking about the best possible quality of step that I can take now.

Action begins this very moment. Procrastination is the enemy. Pick up the messy papers and sort into folders. Do the exercises and stretches that keep me mobile. Go to the gym and focus on my body alignment. Enjoy creating the current artwork. And live in each moment that is part of every journey.

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2 thoughts on “One Step At A Time

  1. That’s fantastic! Thank you for sharing your brother-in-law’s story. He will have worked tremendously hard. The method he used to get movement in his legs is one I can appreciate. “Assisted movement” where weak or “disconnected” muscles can work, or you can visualise movement is a powerful tool. I am lucky to work with a personal trainer who experiments with techniques to extend my movement, correct muscle imbalances caused by compensation, and who believes in tapping into the power of the mind.
    You’re absolutely right, it’s the mind that matters.
    And I’m sure that your brother-in-law inspires others.

  2. My brother in law suffered paralysis from a scuba decompression accident in his early 20’s. He was told that he’d never walk or move his lower body again, but refused to believe the doctors. He had a nurse tie a string from his toe through a ring in the ceiling which he held in his one good hand. He would pull the string, forcing his leg to move. Every 15 minutes he called the nurse to switch feet. The day he moved his big toe was a party. It was years before he could leave the hospital. But today he drives, walks with crutches, weed-eats from his sit-down lawnmower, is a father of 5, and leads a wonderful life. Mind over medicine; nothing else matters.

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