The Journey of a Thousand Miles

By Amy Martin, APRN, RhD

That old familiar quote by Lao Tzu says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But how often are we willing to move ourselves in a different direction, and start a whole new journey? Sameness is easy and constancy is safe, but if your world becomes smaller, the possibilities as well as your gray matter will begin to shrink. We all go through waves of time when we are satisfied with what we have accomplished, and other times when we itch to grow or move onto a new path. 

As retirement creeps closer, I have what some might call a crazy dream that I’d like to live on a boat; maybe a refurbished tugboat or even a second hand yacht. I can imagine lazily “chugging” up and down the coast, docking here and there, making friends along the way, a rooftop greenhouse for food, orange/purple sunsets and being rocked to sleep by gentle waves at night, (of course there are never storms in my imagining.) This is not a new fantasy but one I’ve secreted for a few years now, and haven’t done a thing about except look at boats on-line. Here’s the rub; I do not know how to captain a ship, I don’t even know if I might get seasick and have no idea of the cost of this aspiration, but I do know that to bring it closer to reality I have to take that first step. 

What dreams do you have for your life that you call wild, outlandish or unrealistic? How can you create an experience that will enrich, expand and broaden your existence? Like it or not, as we age, if we don’t enlarge our lives, we will contract. Think of the brain as a reflection of your choices. Keep it limber and expansive or slowly lose cognitive function, working memory and your abilities

Here are some healthy choices to keep expanding:

  • Feed more oxygen to your brain with aerobic exercise
  • Research possibilities that will bring zing into your life
  • Challenge yourself by learning something new (leave that comfort zone)
  • Try your hand at a new creative endeavor
  • Intensify your vitality by eating whole foods 
  • Increase your energy by sleeping eight hours when you can
  • Let your self dream 
  • Reconnect with friends and family
  • Forgive those who have hurt you
  • Begin or enhance your spiritual practice with mindfulness, meditation or prayer

In other words, create balance and get your life energy flowing. We need to nourish ourselves in every way, body, mind, emotions and spirit. Without this balance, we live a lopsided life. Stuff isn’t enough, large bank accounts, not enough, number of likes or friends on Facebook, not enough; what makes life rich is the equilibrium that we create purposefully.

I don’t know about you, but I want to do everything in my power to avoid that feeling of contraction, so I have to map out the steps to take to move my dream from my imagination into reality. It does take energy, initiative and commitment, so maybe I’ll rent a boat first and see how I like it. I’m always willing to change my mind. 

If you had an opportunity to begin a new journey, what’s the first thing you would do? Now is as good a time as any to take that first step. I’m right there along with you.

Amy Martin