“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao-Tzu
Many of us aspire to do great things. Quite apart from raising healthy families and paying our bills, we would like to make a difference in this world. And then we become paralyzed by the knowledge that we are not Bill and Melinda Gates. We don’t have millions of dollars at our disposal, nor nuff free time. And so we do nothing. We want to make a splash, to do something large. But baby steps are still steps. You never know when the little donation that you make, the time you volunteer, makes the difference.
People involved in healthcare often want to save everyone. Teachers want all of their students to go on to succeed and do great things. It is important to recognize that even if you cannot achieve great heights, you should not give up. Sometimes it is the little actions that bring the results. It is the drop of water dripping over time that erodes the stone until streams turn into powerful waterfalls. We often underestimate the power of taking that first step and committing to something. And maybe we won’t see the results, perhaps success will come years after we are gone, or it will have inspired someone else on to greatness. In our desire to impact the world we become impatient.
But we cannot plant a seed, and then go and dig it up each day to see if it is growing. We have become a world of instant gratification, expecting to have all our questions answered immediately (Google dat!). We have forgotten the pleasure of anticipation, counting the days till Christmas, or having to wait months for the results of an exam. We have forgotten how to be patient and respect the process. Forget the means we want the end, and soon!
Those who have gone before us were patient people. They had to wait on letters to arrive by mail, drive hours on bad roads to get where they wanted to go. But in the process they learned to enjoy the ride, call to people along the way, and take baby steps to achieve their goals. I did not meet my father-in-law for many years after I got married. And yet we had a relationship by mail, and through the photographs that I would mail him. He loved his grandchildren passionately, and pulled out his ‘grip’ from under his bed to show anyone who passed by. He was a patient man. When others were running off to England and America to make their fortune, he was patiently working the land. “This is my America” he would tell people, “This is my England.” And he was able to send all of his children to high school, a unique achievement in his village.
I think of Mass Adrian (Dy to his family) often, a man known as ‘Radio’ in his village, for you always heard him coming. “Me happy-oy” he would call out to the school kids, and make them sing it back to him. He understood the value of patience, the importance of committing to a goal and working steadily to achieve it. He was a stubborn man, but no, “Them say mi stubborn,” he would tell you, and clarify that he was “determined, like a Daniel.” A simple man, he took pride in his family, his work, and his land. He did not wish his life to be other than it was. He did not dream of far off goals, he put in the hours and the effort one day at a time. He also helped everyone in his neighborhood, assisting with the funds to buy those airfares to fly away, or start up a business.
He met my parents for the first time on the same day he suffered a stroke. They had arrived in his village as he was being taken to doctor. He surprised my mother by planting a big kiss on her cheek. He was not afraid to love, or to show his feelings, sometimes with some good old-fashioned Jamaican bad words. In my parent’s house in Wales my mother had a poster hung on her study wall, the poem by Evan Jones (no relation!) called The Song of the Banana Man. At the top of the poster was a photograph of a farmer’s soil-stained hands, palms up. She hung it there in memory of Mass Adrian:
“Praise God an’ my big right hand, I will live and die a Banana Man.”
One Love Family! Don’t be afraid to take some baby steps in your goals. ‘One one cocoa full basket!’ Have a great weekend, and a productive life.