“There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. He wants to see what is reaching toward him and to be able to recognize or at least classify it. Man always tends to avoid physical contact with anything strange.” – Elias Canetti
We stand at the precipice of the unknown. A myriad of emotions whirl inside as we stare at the blank canvas that is the next stage. Anxiety and fear permeate our base instinct, but it wrestles with the constant push and pull of wanting to find joy, excitement, and wonder in that moment. We ask ourselves, “What is the most important step a person can take?” We validate ourselves that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. We place our emphasis, our hopes, our dreams, on that first step and yes – it is important.
But it is not the most important step.
A step into the unknown – the realm of unknowing, of mystery, of adventure – is a heavy step. “Everything hinges on this step, this first moment. With this step we are no longer bound by what we know. We’re finally free.” With a deep breath, we take that first step and the weight disappears.
But immediately, a voice whispers ever so softly, “Come back.” We’ve taken the first step, but doubt clouds our mind, our hearts, our actions. We cast a look over our shoulder and see everything we have ever known. It’s brilliant. Lights beam from the tall towers we’ve have a hand in building. Everything we’ve known and loved is locked away in those ivory towers that stand as a testimony to who we are. Comfort, security, love, friendship, finances, family – everything our heart desires. “Why do you want to leave?”
Why do we want to leave?
Our eyes snap forward. The path ahead is shrouded in fog with shadowy shapes prowling through the swirls of mist. Our mind begins to play tricks as the shadows grow to gargantuan proportions, red glowing lights flicker on and off, and we hear the soft cackle of derision from those who have always doubted our step.
Why would we ever want to leave?
Longing springs up in our heart, filling the space that terror of the unknown has bred in us. Doubt clouds our mind once again. We lift our foot, but it isn’t in a forward direction. It hovers in the air, trying to discern the proper path. “There’s no shame in going back. They’ll understand. They have to understand.” Our leg trembles as it slowly inches back.
But again it stops as a soft light glows further ahead in the distance. The mist is not dispelled, but it catches the eye in a most curious way. It isn’t bright, but it is an invitation. We don’t know what the invitation holds, but it is whispering in a voice even quieter than the first, “Come.”
“Come. Take the step. Step into the adventure that awaits. The path is not easy, but at the end it will have been worth it. Trust Me.”
“Come, Expert. Together we take this step.”
With fear and trembling, we take a step.
What is the most important step? It’s not the first.