Everybody tells me: “take it one day at a time”, “look ahead and keep going”, “keep moving forward”. They are all different versions of the same advice – keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It’s not only them who tell me this. I tell it to myself. Every single day.
Sometimes when the big picture is, well, too big, it is alarming to even sneak a peek at it. You don’t want to think about it, acknowledge it, or admit that it exists (even though its existence can scarcely be ignored). I mean, it’s always there – constantly looming over and casting a bigger shadow on everything. I know stepping out of one’s own shoes and viewing the situation from afar can give a lot of clarity and understanding, but it can also overwhelm and make one feel tiny and lost amongst a whole lot of big-ness. I’m all for objectivity and putting things in perspective, but probably not when I’m feeling down and out, beaten to the ground, and unsure of what tomorrow brings (much less the day after, or the day after that, or the many days after all of that).
Even though I’m a natural planner and an earnest believer in structure, strategy, and goal-listing… sometimes I don’t want to think about any of that. I want to throw my planners under the bed, cover up the calendars and to-do lists, and just… well, breathe. Without running towards a pre-mandated goal. Without managing pressing life-deadlines. Without growing expectations, blossoming ideas, charming dreams. On days as especially dreary and de-energizing as these, it is best I don’t think about the big picture at all. It makes absolutely no sense to splash paint on the big canvas when I am struggling to color within the lines of the little sketches.
So I stop worrying about the future, the could-be’s, and the should-be’s. I look ahead, and yes, the contorted landscape and the intermittent darkness is scary. But I know the ground beneath me is solid, and I know my legs work, and I know I’m not out of breath. Maybe I don’t have all the perfectly laid stones to build my castles or the golden chariots to go shooting into the big picture with glory and fanfare, but… I have myself – my mind, my body, and my heart. And they are ready to see me through.
When the big picture threatens my spirit, I will just have to realign my focus. I don’t have to look so far. Not yet. Right now, I will focus on today, right here, right now, this current path. I will put one foot in front of the other, each footstep carving the way forward. It’s okay if things don’t always work according to plan. It doesn’t matter if goals are missed and dreams are ditched. There will always be something else.
I won’t allow the unsure future to threaten me or the impending darkness to deter me, because when I am focused on each footstep, I’m not thinking about my journey – I’m just walking. And that’s good enough.