The Step

By Greg Baer M.D.

July 4, 2014

Personal Growth

Life presents an unending series of choices. They never end, and most of us worry about them. What if I make a mistake? What step should I take ten steps from now? How do I do this perfectly? Am I taking steps fast enough?

We worry ourselves sick, in fact. The instant we make a decision, we’re fretting about the next one to the extent that we’re not enjoying any of them.

As I work in my gardens, there are endless steps to be taken: prune the trees, pick up fallen branches on the ground, raise the lawn in spots where it has sunken and created a depression, replace the old bridge, pull weeds, haul gravel to a place that has become muddy and difficult to walk on, and so on. In fact, I keep a list of tasks that need to be done.

But I don’t worry about the list. My mind is not occupied by all the things that are yet to be done. Instead, I pick one item on the list and simply begin. I enjoy the movement of each rock, the transfer of every shovel of gravel, the sense of accomplishment from pulling each weed. Finally, after all these years of frenetic activity and worrying about doing, I’m enjoying myself.

I’m enjoying each step not because it brings me closer to some imagined completion. For one thing, the potential tasks of life are never complete. No, I just enjoy each step. Prying a rock out of the ground is immensely fulfilling all by itself: placing the pry bar and fulcrum, feeling the enormous power of using a lever arm of nearly 20:1, hearing the sucking sound of the rock lifting from the mud, observing the wiggling creatures that have made their home beneath the rock, envisioning the path I’m creating by moving the rock to a different place, the energizing of my body as I lift two hundred pounds of stone into a trailer, and all accompanied by light from the sun 93 million miles away, breezes generated by a myriad of complex forces, and birds and insects singing to me. The movement of a single rock becomes a poetry of sight, sound, smells, and creative storytelling.

It is the same with having a conversation, raising a child, engaging in a project, and more. So many individual steps to be enjoyed, not just a series of steps to be taken like so many obstacles to be conquered. Our highest reason for existence is joy—not just derived from imagined success as we “complete” a task but from each decision along the way, each inner chuckle, each sight and sound, each facial expression enjoyed, and each deeply satisfying sigh exhaled with eyes closed and lips relaxed into a gentle smile.

Enjoy each step. Revel in it. Recognize it and rejoice in it. And at the end, you’ll realize that you’ve created a life of unanticipated peace and satisfaction.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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