By Dave Markwell

Throughout our lives, we take many steps. Some are forward. Some are sideways. Some are backwards. These steps move us through life. I recall my own first steps into a kindergarten classroom. I remember holding my daughter’s hand as her little sneakered feet took her first steps into her kindergarten classroom, and then she let go of my hand.

In my time, I have stepped up and I have stepped down. I have stepped quickly and I have meandered and I have stalled to a shuffle. These steps take us places. They are the vehicles we drive to our destinations. These destinations become our lives.
The steps we take define our lives. In considering this idea, I kind of think that the concept of “forward, sideways, and backwards” is a bit troublesome. Motion is a verb. It is action. And, with life, action is necessary. However, direction might be the more potent variable. Direction is a noun. It is static. We face our feet in the direction of “there”; the place we want to go. Then, we start moving.

The song, “One Step Up,” by Bruce Springsteen discusses this idea. “Two steps up and one step back”…shapes the idea in a linear fashion. The challenge is that life is rarely linear. It’s hard to tell, in the moment, if “forward” or “backward” really are what they seem. Sometimes a forward step can become clear as a backward step, if we’re moving the wrong direction. For the same reason, sometimes a step backward can be a step forward. And only in retrospect can we know if our steps were good ones.

So, the challenge is direction, not motion. And this is a trickier consideration. We have to point our toes in a direction before we can step. But, there are lots of directions. We have to choose a single one. This is the problem sometimes. Which one do we choose? This is an important decision, because there are consequences. We spend time travelling in a direction. This time becomes the sum of our lives. So, the “right” direction is an important thing. The hard part is, and always will be, knowing what “right” is.

For this reason, sometimes we must simply begin walking. If the path is unclear, moving will define it as where we want to go or not. We must not stand still. We must move, even in uncertainty. It is here that faith and forgiveness are important. We step forward with faith, and sometimes must forgive ourselves when we have to step backwards, resetting to face a new destination, and then resetting our faith. Over and over and over, we do this. Living life is a dynamic function. It changes and we must change with it.

With this in mind, I will embrace the little and big choices and just move. And if my steps are not the right ones, I will shift my shoes and take some new ones. And I’ll give myself a break when an error in direction is made and the changing of direction is uncomfortable. Forgiving ourselves might be the most important element in our journeys…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). He also runs the Waterland Arcade, located at 22306 Marine View Drive South. Dave extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, Dave desperately needs more friends – find him on Facebook here.

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