Have you ever seen an emperor penguin walk? Because of their body configuration, they take short steps, often waddling from side to side in the process. Their head bobs side to side also, moving in rhythm to the cadence of their walk. If humans had to walk this way, we never would get anywhere. Yet, these emperor penguins travel in this manner anywhere from 31 to 75 miles in ice and snow in order get to their breeding ground. The journey is spontaneous; the need to travel is never questioned as to distance, effort, or necessity.
Then, as the young are hatched and begin to grow, first the female emperor penguin makes the trip back to the sea and then returns to the breeding ground in spite of the winter weather. Then the male penguin does the same thing. That’s a lot of distance to travel in frozen conditions, a distance that can only be traversed by taking very small steps.
Have you ever thought you would never be able to complete a task? That the time and effort you would need to put into the project seemed to be more effort than you intended? Or have you been in the middle of an event only to realize that you cannot leap forward as fast as you wished? Or perhaps been afraid to even begin?
Actually, we all have.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. This Native American slogan has meant the world to me when writing books, painting, or when any other task I have chosen is at the beginning stages. Nothing is more intimidating than facing a blank page, knowing you only have 220 more to go before your words turn into a book. An artist told me once that the hardest part is just putting that initial wash of color on the blank canvas. When a friend of mine was just starting a course of study to become an acupuncturist, she became intimidated quickly by the chart of the human body dotted with what looked like thousands of points to learn. Her instructor reassured her by saying, “You eat an elephant one bite at a time.”
No, I am not advocating eating an elephant. But, I am encouraging you to cease thinking of the entire journey ahead of you, and focus instead on making that first bit of paint present itself on the canvas, on the one step forward, or on that first word on the page. Whatever it is, just make the first movement forward, accepting the process as it presents itself. Then, do it again, and again, and again. Eventually, the progression will create its own energy, as if the painting, book, or event begins to have a life of its own. It will lead you where you need to go; you will automatically follow. It will also let you know when it needs more, or something different, and when your created work or special event is completed. At some point, you may not be able to do otherwise than to let this creation you are involved with continue until it is fully expressed.
Whereas you first assume you are creating something, assume the success of this creation is entirely of your own doing, eventually you realize that you are simply the methodology by which this creation, event, or product may come into five-sense existence. Michelangelo said one time that his statues already exist inside the stone. All he ever did was chip away, one tiny bit at a time, at what wasn’t the statue.
Small steps gather great results.