I’m going to be honest here, sometimes I find aphorisms to be bullshit.
It’s the cynic in me — I haven’t lost that part of me totally, which is good. He’s kind of funny from time to time.
Years ago I worked on a project where I took these banal little phrases and twisted them to make them mean something else.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep” was one of them.
I remember thinking to myself “what the hell does that even mean? Like, of course it takes a footstep, what the fuck are you going to do, flap your arms and fly?”
I may have been a little jaded at the time.
Fast forward three years later.
I’m well over 400 pounds and I’m walking around a square block no larger than 500 metres in a small part of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, called Rabbittown.
And I’m chugging it up Suvla Street for about 70 of those 500 metres on the smallest incline imaginable, and I was sucking wind. My back was on fire, and I just didn’t know if I’d make it back to the apartment.
I can remember when myself and Caitlin returned to her place, sitting down taking off my shoes, and just feeling pain — everywhere. For a minute, I thought “fuck, wouldn’t it just be easier to stop, and not do this anymore. What is the point? I’m too far gone.”
I really felt as though I was a dead man walking.
Thoughts of how rescue personnel were going to get me raced through my head. I didn’t know how they were going to get me out into the ambulance? How they’d lift me from the second floor of my house down the stairs — “they’re too narrow” I’d mumble to myself.
“How do they even open the door?” I thought. “Will they break it down?”
These thoughts were constant. On a loop. Everyday.
It made me stop dead in my tracks. I was immovable. Paralyzed with fear.
And so, moving forward, the thought of losing over 200 pounds seemed absolutely ridiculous.
I was waiting for them to come and take me away for Christ’s sake.
Fast forward 2 years.
I’m sitting in The Energy Company (my gym) with my trainer Mike O’Neil. And I’ve got plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and what feels like tendonitis in my left. I’ve just started training a few days before, after suffering a back injury over Christmas.
We’re doing german styled training. We focus on one part of the body and then we do 100-120 reps of that same exercise. You might think it to be boring, but I love it.
This particular day. We focused on legs. And for the last set of reps I look at Mike and ask him to “jack it up”. Take a look.
When I watch this video, and I’ve done it quite a bit, I’m reminded of the 500 metre walk around Rabbittown. I’m reminded of the hopelessness I felt at the time. Even though I was smiling and nodding and saying “oh no, I can do this”.
The fact of the matter is this. I am doing this. I’ve been doing this for a while, because it takes time to get where you need to go. And, as was the case with me, there were times I got there in spite of myself. And while I’ve not lost over 200 pounds yet, I’ll be damned if I don’t.
Sometimes I get questions from people — do you have any words of wisdom, or thoughts on this, that, or the other?
I think the one single piece of meaningful advice that I could give to anyone is this:
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep.
And there ain’t nothin’ banal about that, my friends.
Keep moving. Don’t stop. For anything.