“If you have a great ambition, take as big a step possible in the direction of fulfilling it, but if the step is only a tiny one, don’t worry if it is the largest one now possible.” (Mildred McAfee)
Last night before we went to bed I had a look at this quote. My wife looked at it too and said she really doesn’t like these quotes that seem to contradict themselves. We talked for a moment, and I said I didn’t think so much that it was contradictory as it is just hedging the bet, and trying to offer some encouragement.
Great ambitions require great efforts, and for me to make large and bold steps. If I only take incremental steps along the road of life, then I will only ever get incremental results. I know that if I want to fulfill big dreams, I have to take big leaps, sometimes even leaps of faith.
What this quote is getting at is the idea that sometimes it is just enough to get myself pointed in the right direction. Sometimes it is a matter of setting the compass, orienting myself, and just making that first effort. I may not be ready today to make a leap, or a large step, but if I can make a small step that gets me moving, then that is a victory, and moves the needle.
I have often thought that I have a book in me somewhere, maybe even more than one. For years I have toyed with the idea of writing something that could be published, and even might be bought and read by another person in this world. I have had ideas that have come and gone, I have seen other people’s books that were published and said “dang, why didn’t I think of that?” But along the way I never had oriented myself to the idea of actually doing some serious writing. Until I hit on the idea of this daily reflection blog.
This year I have decided to get myself into the habit of writing on a daily basis. Sitting here on the last day of the 4th month, I am now 1/3 of the way through. At first it was very easy to write, the first few blog posts flew out of my head as fast as my fingers could commit them to the keyboard. Along the way, though, I have hit dry spells. I have had days when I have stared blankly at the screen for what seemed like an eternity, only to finally come up with something that was at least passable. Some days I have written things that I was quite proud of, and others when I realized that I had checked the box to write, but hadn’t said anything insightful or important.
The point is, though, that I have now oriented myself in the direction of writing. It has become a daily habit of mine that I rarely miss. On days when I am not able to write, I feel an ache to get back to it as soon as possible. I am sitting right now at a picnic table in a campsite enjoying my morning coffee, and I am writing. And this writing is giving me great joy.
I am not at all ready to take the leap of becoming a published author. The ideas I have right now for books would require time to research, and a lot of diligent writing and editing before trying to find a publisher or taking the additional leap of self-publishing. But, I am making small steps that are “in the direction of fulfilling” my ambition.
On further reflection, I don’t see this quote as contradictory. I see it as providing a sense of hope, and giving solid advice to the ambitious dreamer. I may not always be ready to take that leap but I can edge up closer to it rather than heading off in the opposite direction. That is my inspiration for the day today.