Big Steps and Baby Steps
I am starting to think that real change does not start with an idea. It starts with an action. I mean, I totally agree that the way we think defines us and your attitude determines your altitude and whatever other platitudes. But here’s the reality, I have about ten million ideas a day and they rarely lead to any meaningful impact. And not to sound too hopped up on my own fumes, but I think some of my ideas are pretty dang good. Unfortunately, good ideas are not enough to make your life different. They certainly aren’t enough to engender real lasting changes.
That’s why I’m starting with baby steps. I took some today. I love going on adventures, but sometimes I get stuck in this mindset that because of my fatherly and vocational responsibilities, I just need to stay home or do more around the house, or some nonsense. I would not say that I intellectually flush out these ideas, I just let the vague feeling that I’m not doing enough of the right things keep me trapped in a cycle where I do not change.
Yesterday I thought ‘gosh darn it, I’m going to take a real honest-to-God action, not just have a new idea.’ I decided to take my 3-year-old son, Atlas, on our first solo hike.
We hit the road with buttered toast, coffee for me, and hearts ready to greet the mountains. After observing three trains, seventeen trucks, and a smorgasbord of construction vehicles, we made it to the mountains. February temperatures rose to a balmy 33*F as the sun splashed down through the pines on trails of mixed mud, snow, and ice. Atlas hiked the first 0.2 miles with increasing trepidation, before taking his place in the backpack.
For the next three hours we walked, imitating the birds calls we heard, observing some unique paw prints, and discussing the various colors we could see: Green trees. Also green plants. Also green backpack. Snack breaks were a great opportunity to add to the muddy trail by spitting out our water (Atlas) and peeing (Dad). Atlas was very impressed by the amount of mud I could make and seemed slightly disappointed we were not going to play with this genuine creative treasure.
Adventure rarely means comfort. This hike was no exception. After the first four miles the top-heavy pack with a total weight of nearly fifty pounds was pulling on my shoulders. Atlas grew slightly bored and this causes him to lean far to the left, further misaligning the weight distribution, and causing his left foot to kick my gluteus maximus with every stride. Eventually, I resorted to holding his left foot with my hand to place a moratorium on the literal ass-kicking I was receiving. The trail conditions didn’t allow for him to run as free as I would have liked, there was just too much ice, but we did stop and catch some glimpses of the mountains while enjoying animal crackers.
Atlas hiked the last 0.4 miles on foot holding my hand, and though it caused him some stress to navigate 6-inch snow drifts and slippery ice sections, he performed really well. I had to stop and warm up his hands and give him a hug after he fell in the snow for the third time but overall his attitude was fantastic. We celebrated our 6.5 mile loop with Chik-fil-A. Best of all, he had ice-cream after his chicken.
I do not think I’ve achieved some amazing feat of fathering through this hike. It wasn’t perfect, epic, or even particularly noteworthy. But, I made a change and I took action in the line with my values and beliefs. I think a lot of us are waiting for a job, person, or community to give us the lifestyle we want. Maybe some of those things do need to change, but our lifestyle is not by how we think but by the choices we make. Want to take a big step and live the life of your dreams? Start by taking action today with a baby step.