The Next Good Step
I learned about “the next good step” in the most literal way – it was not intellectual which is my usual way of trying to deal with the world. This happened some years ago but made a huge impression on me.
I was climbing my first really big mountain and at 56, I was a little old to be starting with a world class hill but there I was, on Kilimanjaro. Whether it was fear, altitude or a combination of the two, I could barely breathe and badly wanted the first day to end. It did, but not surprisingly, the second day of climbing began at dawn and promised to be equally distressing. However, somewhere during the later part of the second day, when I was too tired to be frightened, I stopped thinking about reaching camp, even stopped thinking about my next meal, and began to think about my next good step. Literally. The next good step meant I would put my foot down in a safe place, not trip on a root, not slip off a rock, and certainly not look over the edge. Just take the next good step.
I briefly understood what people say when they talk about “living in the moment”, Usually, I think about the past, the present and the future a lot. Just because I managed to stay in the present for those 6 days of climbing, I haven’t been able to adopt that attitude as regularly as I would like. I have a busy life in the real world. I didn’t have a million things to do when I was climbing – not falling was my primary goal. Still, it was a good idea then and it is a good idea now – to focus on the next good step and take it – thoughtfully, intentionally, and with enthusiasm.