- Special Sections
- Public Notices
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Not too long ago I typed, as near as I could remember it, that quote from Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu on the Facebook wall of a friend. She had announced she had made it through her first day back at work, after taking leave to attend to the medical needs of her son.
I offered the quote as a sort of acknowledgement of support and encouragement.
I’ve always admired that quote.
It says something about beginnings and perspectives. It says something about determination in the face of a challenge.
That describes my friend.
It also describes several people I’ve had the honor to interview in the past few months for feature stories. Whether it involved the loss of a hand, a foot or eyesight, the stories revealed subjects who refused to allow that loss to define them or keep them from their goals.
And they accomplished so much, by any standard.
Not everyone who has the desire to do so succeeds in writing a book, running a race, starting a business, fishing professionally or learning to play a musical instrument, just to name a few of the aforementioned accomplishments. It’s much too easy — for me, at least — to keep putting off goals.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything. It just means I recognize some obstacles are created internally; sometimes we create our own obstacles, built with apathy, excuses or resignation.
That’s what has stuck with me after my recent interviews.
I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that creativity begets creativity. Specifically, as a writer I find being around other writers — discussing projects and ideas — helps spark creativity.
This equation can be extended.
What I’m getting at is this: Being around others who accomplish things tends to make me want to accomplish things, too.
That might just sound like another way of saying their stories were inspirational to me. And they were.
But they are more than that too.
They raise questions about what drives me to succeed at certain goals, and they make me think about my goals in general. They make me think about what obstacles keep me from them.
I didn’t rush right out after any of those interviews and sign up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I didn’t sign up for a 10K run.
What I did was use that inspiration as a springboard for reflection and creativity.
Anything that makes me re-examine my world, my life or just my daily outlook is valuable to me. It makes me take stock of what I’ve done, what I’m doing and what I aspire to do.
Often, as in this case, it leads to creativity. For me that translates to success, because most of what I aspire to do is based on creativity.
It is like coming full circle with an idea: Those personal stories created inspiration which led to creativity which led to the work to which I aspire. It is like recharging my creative battery.
As I write this column I think about the significance of facing challenges, accomplishing goals and overcoming what seem to be barriers. Since I believe often those barriers are self-inflicted, I must believe often we are our own solutions to overcoming them.
While I don’t pretend to know what it is like to lose a hand, a foot or my eyesight, I realize, when it comes to accomplishing things, much more seems to depend on what’s inside than what’s outside.
Physical loss is less limiting than loss of spirit. Motivation, strength, determination, perseverance and attitude can carry someone great distances, both geographically and metaphorically. Without those qualities, taking the single step that begins any journey can take longer than the journey itself.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@ thenewsenterprise.com.