I’m a walker, always have been. I don’t know when I took my first steps or under what circumstances, but I love walking, love being able to move under my own steam without relying on anyone or anything to get me from place to place.
I like meandering walks through parks or little towns or sometimes even shopping centers.
I like to set out quick and purposefully, pump my arms hard enough to set my heart racing a little bit.
With every step I’m grateful for the ability to propel my body through space.
Walking is good for my emotional well-being. It’s grand for my physical health. And it’s good for my writing, too, because I work things out in my head while I’m walking, undistracted by phones or tweets or Facebook status or post-it notes and to-do lists.
My little grandson is taking his first baby steps this week. There’s something poignant about a child’s first wobbly steps. It’s such a big milestone, standing upright to walk. Until lately, he’s been scuttling around crab-like on the shiny hardwood floors in their house, a cute humanoid dustmop. But now he’s connected with that unique ability we humans have – to straighten our spines and let our two legs move us forward.
Every time I begin to write, I feel like Connor must feel when he’s standing tall and walking. The world looks very different from this place behind my keyboard. It opens and expands before me with so many possibilities. At first I have to focus very hard on the mechanical process, of coordinating the effort to move forward while still maintaining my balance – baby steps. But then the words begin to flow and I start to pick up steam and there is a definite sense of exhilaration. Sometimes I want to crow with childlike glee, so happy am I with the result.
Other times I stumble and fall, and there are inevitable tears.
It’s those first steps that are so important. My grandson has started out on a new path, has begun to master one of the most vital skills he will ever need. Once you muster the courage to take those baby steps – on the hardwood floors of your living room or on the page – there’s no stopping, no turning back.
The world opens before you, and life will never be the same.