“The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”
Lao–tzu’s eternal journey is more commonly known as beginning “with a single step.”
That’s the way I learnt it as a child, from a cheap fridge magnet, with a stock photo of some desert in the background.
In this more popular form, it promises that even the toughest jobs can be achieved, one task at a time. It breaks our hero’s journey down into tiny steps; it’s easy, memorable and looks spiffy on an inspirational poster.
I suspect it’s not really what Lao–tzu meant.
A closer translation of the original Chinese:
“Thousand miles to be travelled, start with foot (placed) down.”
The old mystic wasn’t suggesting that we only concentrate on the next step, nor did he seem particularly interested in the length of the road ahead.
The devil’s in the details. If a single step implies motion, then beneath one’s feet speaks of stillness; of knowing where you stand and feeling the ground underneath you.
No matter how long the journey, how quick the pace, we’ll always be exactly where we are. It’s similar to that other timeless darling of trite motivational posters, “The journey is the destination,” but more poetic.
The Road Home
If 2012 felt to me like a dreadful trudge and painful rebirth, then 2013 (so far) feels like standing on firm ground for the very first time, even if I don’t know where I’ll be next month.
It’s been a long and bendy road — and the journey continues — but now I can finally feel my toes pressing down into the cold, wet earth.
Odds And Ends:
This blog has almost 5,000 subscribers — possibly more — which is nice, given that I hardly published any new content here in 2012. (I was busy building the best exchange rates API around!)
Some of you might have noticed the distinct lack of programming & design articles (which is likely what you signed up for), or that all the old content on this site appears to have disappeared (for now).
If you’re still interested, stay subscribed. I’ll post software articles if/when they are required. The blog is going a little more multi–genre, though, to reflect my changing interests and devotions.
Expect to see more creative non–fiction as I practise longer–form writing, and plenty of updates and links to my work on other projects. I promise to only post new material when it’s worth the read–time.
Best of luck for 2013. As always, get in touch if you need anything!