2nd post in the series, “I Can Do Anything?“:
I take a walk every morning with my dog. I have various routes to choose from and I make my decision based on what I have going on later in the day. Often the walk involves an elevation loss of roughly 380 feet (115.8 m). Of course I have to regain that elevation to go home. Most of the time when walking uphill I can’t see very far ahead because I’m among trees or I’m walking on streets with limited sight distance. But on one of my routes the dog and I come around a bend in the road and there before us stretches a straight street up a big hill. We have to gain 200 feet (61 m) elevation in half a mile (1.6 km). This after we’ve already gained 160 feet (48.8 m) elevation in a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) to get to the road that will lead us home. Psychologically this is the hardest route because I can see every single inch we have to climb.
Sometimes when I’m watching black belts demonstrating techniques or performing kata it’s like looking up that hill. I’ve already come a little way and now I see how very far I have yet to go before I reach that level of proficiency. I know it’ll take years and years. This could be discouraging if I open the door to self doubt.
Typically I take a moment to look up the hill… OK, really my dog stops to sniff something, but we’ll pretend I’m the one who decides to pause in the walk. Like I said, I look up the hill and I acknowledge it for what it is. Then I put one foot forward (when the dog is ready, of course). Then I take the next step… You get the picture. I look up the hill from time to time to see if there are cars coming or people I should be aware of. Yes I do measure my progress occasionally. But mostly I’m looking around near where I am. I see the beautiful things people have done with their houses and yards. I watch birds. My dog often makes me laugh. Sometimes there are frustrations – the dog lunges at a squirrel and takes forever to quit barking or a car nearly runs us over where the shoulder of the road is overgrown with shrubbery. Usually the benefits of walking up the hill vastly outweigh the occasional frustrating events. It takes time, but we eventually get up that hill. I always find I’ve enjoyed the journey.
In the dojo I’ve learned to enjoy the journey. Class is always an adventure – I never know what we’re going to work on, what new insight I’m going to get, or if I’m finally going to be able to do the technique that’s been challenging me. Of course I always must work towards getting better. I have to keep taking that next step. And yes, injuries happen or sometimes I have to own up and do push ups for something. But I don’t have to be discouraged by those adversities or by how far I have yet to go. I can enjoy the discoveries along the way. I’m told there’s not really an end to the hill I’m climbing – there’s another hill I haven’t seen yet. If life circumstances and hard work get me to a black belt, I’m told there will be more hills, more discoveries – enough to keep me busy until I am not physically able to do karate anymore.
That puts fire in my heart. I can keep going through the time it takes to accomplish my goals if I remember to enjoy the journey.
Are you enjoying your journey?
Next post in the series: Lots of Hard Work