Journey of a Thousand Miles

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut


T landed on his butt for the umpteenth time. No one has ever told him “It’s not time for that yet”. And even if they did, he couldn’t have understood. He places his hands on the ground, points his butt to the heavens, stands, and swings his arms like he’s on a tightrope. He plants one foot forward, lines up the other foot beside it, sways with his heels as a fulcrum, flails his arms like a drowning man and thud! He’s on the ground again.

The journey of a thousand miles… starts in the gym.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step is a saying that originated from the Chinese. We all know they are smart people and that must be why the world believes that saying. But I’m the kind of person who wonders: what happens before the step? If you intend to travel for a thousand miles on foot (and I hope you have a good reason to) the journey should start in a gym or with a diet or with daily jogs around your block? I believe that without the right kind of preparation, you would just end up at the door of that man who lives a mile from your house and has always mocked you as an under achiever because he was there when you couldn’t finish the 1500 metres in secondary school. You’ll have all these folks who want to cheer you as the first person to journey for a thousand miles on foot, but will return home with large banners that never get a chance to dance in the wind because you went down on your butt panting like an old truck making a steep ascent. And don’t forget that man who wants to mock you. You see why you have to start at the gym?

It is this kind of thinking that has pervaded my mind as I considered what to do about my writing. I’ve got very high tastes in words and I can smell rubbish from the first syllable. This has almost crippled my writing. When I started to blog last year, I had a good idea of what I wanted to sound like, but the limbo between what I want and what I am is why there a few violin virtuosos in the world. So I devised a plan. After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Stephen King’s On Writing, I started to write every day. I scribbled stories, essays, poems (they were all bad) and a lot of disjointed stuff. One year later and I still don’t sound like I would love to.

All he does is stagger, walk, fall and the cycle begins again

Remember T? Let me tell you more about him. I don’t know when he discovered that his legs are not just props for holding on to mummy. But from the moment he did, there’s been no stopping him. At first he started to refuse being carried around. He would rather hold on to your fingers as he tried to make those legs work. And they worked. Then he decided to push them to their limits by running every time he walks.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched him land on his butt, look around for sympathy, stand up and resume his running. I’ve even seen him do that today. I think he knows that there is neither a gym to build his muscles nor diet to condition his young body. So, all he does is stagger, walk, fall and the cycle begins again.

I don’t know the number of times I can afford to land on my butt where writing is concerned, but T is now walking and I’m here on my couch, still trying to improve my writing. There is a place for being cautious and prepared, but I have to realise that landing on the butt is just one step to running the Obudu Mountain Race someday. There was a time when I was like T too: when I was not afraid of falling and had my sights on just running; a time when I did not over think a statement as simple as “the journey of a thousand miles starts with a step”. So here I am, trying to return to that time.

After two trips to planet WordPress, I’m throwing away the training wheels. I’ll experiment with narrative non-fiction, fiction, essays, the occasional poem and scribbles that don’t fit any of those descriptions. I’ll land on my butt a few times like T, but I want to believe it will all be a step to running those thousand miles. So if you’re like me and you’ve been in the gym forever, building up calf muscles that would only count miles on the treadmill, perhaps it’s time  to step beyond the threshold and take that step on your journey of a thousand miles. I’m not saying you won’t fall, but falling is just a phase in the cycle—there’s running too.

Here is my first step.


Photo credits:


33 Replies to “Journey of a Thousand Miles”

  1. First to comment? Yipee! This is like the cultural practice of throwing cold water on a new bride’s feet. But that may not be a good illustration considering that this bride is planning to run a race (the shock effect of ice cold water may not exactly jostle the feet to movement)
    Anyway, I am just glad to have a new set of rambles to save to my hard drive.
    Welcome back to the Eden of words, welcome back to innocence. You’re gonna do just great.
    Cheers to your staggers and your swagger.
    Cheers to T for the inspiration.
    *rubbing palms together in anticipation* Now, bring it on.

    1. You know you can’t throw cold water on this bride nah, I don’t have money to replace PC oooo. Thanks for being the first here. Now I know who to seek if one day WordPress’s cache of my work is erased.

      Thanks once again for the kind words (I’m still trying to understand ‘welcome back to innocence’), and for going through everything here.

      1. You were welcomed back to Innocence based on this: ” I’ll experiment with narrative non-fiction, fiction, essays, the occasional poem and scribbles that don’t fit any of those descriptions. I’ll land on my butt a few times like T…”
        I do realise that innocence is almost entirely antithetical to being all buffed up from gym-ing so hard, but hey… anything can happen in Eden, right?

        1. Of course buffed up folks can be innocent too. And who said I stayed enough in the gym to be buffed up? I’m here looking at my matchstick arms and wondering… anything can happen in Eden.

  2. I am still trying to get who T stands for and I think I have an idea. But that would be saved for another day.
    Keep the flag flying. There is always room for improvement. OSB.

  3. Your desire and eagerness is so refreshing. I come from a family of writers, albeit not famous, but writers just the same. We seemed hardwired to write. You can’t get away from it once you have felt that it is your purpose. I wish you well on all your writing endeavors and the pain it must take to get to that place where your voice is distinguishable from others. God bless you, my new friend.

    1. Thank you for stopping by here and on the other blog. I agree that sometimes it feels like we can’t get away from writing (at least that’s how I feel). I’m honored to be called friend. Thank you once again.

  4. you left ur old bride who happens to be my best friend and now you are married to my sister. who should I love most?. hmmmmmm. blood they say is thicker than water….nice piece

  5. I guess T is Tychic…….. Anyway, I’m happy to be part of the launching of this journey. Looking forward to a great journey with you.

    1. Jane seems to have unlocked the code. I’m happy you’re here, now there’s a front row seat reserved for you. See you at the finish line (wherever that is).

  6. Everyone eventually finds their voice in writing, Ife. For now though, experiment and play around with blogging ‘your’ thoughts….undiluted.

    A writer is his own worst critic, but I think sometimes you can be hard on yourself(?). So for the time being, just write and write and keep writing, till one day you can go back and rewrite everything you’ve written again.
    There’s also no harm in allowing a second pair of eyes look at what you have, without the ‘heavy’ editing that totally erases every trace of you.
    This is a great start though, iLike 🙂 Going to stick around to watch another writing toddler like myself 😉

    Good luck 🙂

    P.S If ever you’re stuck in a dark spot without inspiration, blog hopping helps.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I’m learning to allow other eyes view what I have, and at this point I don’t even mind heavy editing. What’s the worst that could happen? The person would make me feel terrible about my writing and I’ll be tempted to quit, then words will rush at me again and I’ll make sure the only time that person sees my writing ever again is in a published form.

      This wiring toddler appreciates your being here. Thanks.

  7. Apt imagery. Clear message there too.

    I hardly think the omission of those repeated butt-landing episodes in the narrative of a successful walking experience does not discount the essence of initial, struggling attempts prior to making headway. Not to mention the fun – though rather frustrating in the heat of the moment.

    Bold step in the ‘write’ direction. I await a churning out of progressively better products of your beautiful mind. I’m trusting my depressing the ‘Follow’ button is enough proof of my expectations.

  8. Congrats on overcoming the first phase brother. Like Paul did to Felix, you almost tempted me to consider this too… :). Good luck on your journey.

  9. There is freedom waiting for you,
    On the breezes of the sky
    And you ask what if I fall?,
    Oh , but my darling,
    ” WHAT IF YOU FLY? ”
    Erin Hansen
    I just had to type that poem above. It means a lot to me and reading your post I find out we are not really alone on many struggles. I have had series of falls in writing. Sometimes I would write on end and other times the muse will be silent. But even then my head still hammers “write bro, write!” and the several voices in my head will start yelling at each other.

    I do really love this ifemmauel, and to think you wrote it about 2 years ago yet it still rings true.
    Thanks for this. It’s old but the message remains ever green.


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