First, I have an idea about where I’m going. My route. A destination. A duration for the outing. I get on the road and I look toward the horizon, my imagined end point, or the apex of my circuit. I fix an eye on the most distant thing I can see, maybe a tree top. That’s my map. That’s my direction. That’s my True North.
Then I shorten my gaze and divvy up the route. I look to the next sign, street lamp, bend in the road, rise, or tree. It’s ten steps, 25 yards, 1/4 mile, a hill, the furthest I can see roadway. I can easily make each of these shorter endpoints, one after another. If it’s a steep hill, I make my way up four steps or four revolutions at a time. Four more. Four more. Another four.
My friend and trainer Aldegloria taught me this. She also taught me to smile. Smile? Smile! At first it felt weird. I’d naturally grimace under effort. When I remember her telling me to smile, though (and I do when I’m going four steps at a time, to the next crack in the road, this twig, that rock, which she also taught me), I smile. It changes everything.
Periodically, I look up. The horizon’s still there, I’m still heading on the right road, in the right direction. Then I look away. If I fix my gaze on the far away point, I can’t discern my progress. I feel like giving up. It’s slow and hard going. But without it, I don’t have the conviction to continue my drive forward.
When I arrive, I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m here already! Or else I realize, now that I’m here, perhaps I should have gone a different way. Now what? The next horizon? Or back home.