I’ve recently found myself using the phrase ‘baby steps’ more and more in conversations. It comes up mostly whenever I am talking about rough/unproductive days and is surprisingly effective at getting the message across. The phrase just feels right. Despite the adorable nature of the phrase and setting aside mental images of pudgy babies stumbling around, let me tell you why I find it to be such an effective way to express myself.
As grown ups, we find ourselves juggling multiple things at the same time all the time. Take me right now. Currently, I am trying to study for school, to actively participate in two Toastmasters clubs, to find time to read, do laundry, meet up/stay in touch with friends after making promises and mostly to keep this blog running. I bet your schedule is way busier but I have trouble getting all of mine done as it is. As a result, I usually end up dropping the ball on something. An assignment left for the last minute, missing a Toastmasters meeting because I was working on the assignment till 3am or even just having a slow day when nothing gets done.
Now wind the clock all the way back to when you were learning how to walk. You were most likely bumping into stuff, relying on things for support and losing your balance after every few steps. Probably fell on your butt more than a few times and woke the neighbours up. But the point is you dropped the ball a lot of times. But, at that age it isn’t seen as wrongful or disappointing that you do. Instead, the act of taking baby steps is translated to “slowly but surely getting to where you want to be.” Literally.
I don’t mean to compare your difficult classes or hectic work projects to a baby walking but rather to how you treat yourself when you stumble. To me personally, the phrase articulates that I’m learning to be the version of myself that can manage my workload perfectly. A version that gets his school readings done on time so he can get to other readings of a more fictional nature. A version that checks up on his friends and gets the laundry done on time.
I think we’re all trying to be that person who can get all of our work done perfectly, but we’re just not there yet. We drop the ball because we’re human. And that can make someone think badly of themselves. Rather, think of those tough days as baby steps. Small, unsteady but necessary steps leading to a future where you get to walk down whatever path you choose. Literally.
So, don’t hate the unproductive days. Don’t hate yourself on those days. And if you ever find yourself on the floor after taking a fall, just remember.
Change is the only constant. I miss the days when this meant simpler things like transitioning from high school to university or finally moving out of your parents house to start a new life of your own. Such changes are so common that we’ve made our peace with them. We know that they must happen and only a handful try to resist these natural changes.
When it was my time to leave home, I made peace with the fact that it was an important change for me. I was to gain an education, learn to be independent and start my journey. Keeping all these things in mind, I went with the flow and let the waters take me where they may. I’ll admit, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows but then, change never is. We just need to accept it, the good and bad included. Now, this was an example of a change we all look forward to. I know that someday I’ll move from being a student to a working individual. I might re-locate in the course of a job. And after a few decades of service, I’ll retire. These are all changes that we can anticipate and often prepare for. And once you make those transitions, you simply be at peace with the happenings and let the waters flow as they may.
But what about those unprecedented changes we can’t see coming? A pandemic, maybe?
How is the world supposed to cope with everything that has happened? I won’t go on to list all the things that aren’t the same, but we all have some idea of what these are. These were the changes we never saw coming. But now they’re here. I can’t fly home for the summer. And it’s inconvenient and downright unfair. I have half a mind to rant and rage against everything that isn’t what it used to be. Some might even advocate to bring life back to what used to be “normal”. Somewhere in my heart, though, I know that this might be the new normal. The change has happened and our minds want us to fight the flow because it’s all new un-chartered territory.
Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
I think it’s time we stopped resisting and waiting for things to go back to normal. I’m tired of being angry at a virus. This is what it is. Just go with the flow.
Have you ever thought of the grand scheme of things? Everything that is happening around us. The expanding universe, collapsing stars, natural disasters, epidemics, population surge, dying rainforests and so much more. There is so much that goes on around us all the time. So much input into our lives. So much that affects us. So much that we must respond to. So much that we live with.
So what difference do we make? Amidst all that’s happening, what can you or I do to make a difference? So much actually. Humans have so much potential to make a difference. Right from discovering fire to inventing the wheel. From predicting the weather to predicting how the universe expands. There’s actually people planning on how to move Earth’s populous to Mars someday. As humans, we have the capacity to do great things.
But there are things that matter more than these far reaching feats of humanity. Things much simpler and within the reach of every person.
Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
And that’s how you and I can make a difference. It’s the little acts. Pick up a piece of trash. Donate some clothes. Hold the door open for someone. Thank your server. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Be there for them.
Not all of us will be recognized by history as people who changed the world. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity to do so. We can do so much by doing so little. In my travels and experiences, I have been fortunate in meeting so many people. I have met some of my heroes. I have acquainted with fellow travellers. I have experienced different cultures. And in all my experiences, I remember the little things so well. The power of a small kind act is such that it can stay in someone’s memory for a long time. And perhaps, inspire them to carry it on.
In my mind, I know that I am not destined to be a great, well-known individual. In my heart, I am satisfied that I don’t need to be one to leave my mark on the world. It’s the little things.