On my 43rd birthday, my cousin Victor took me for a walk in Les Alpilles, the “little Alps” in the south of France near Avignon. He suggested going for 40 minutes, but we stayed out for about two and a half hours, in our sneakers and everyday clothes, walking up rocky paths around these natural sculptures that looked like they came straight from a dentist’s dreams.
I first saw some of these beauties to the right of a trail we took up a hill. They looked imposing and quite high above us. They did not look approachable, or I guess the word is, surmountable to me.
But they were. Victor changed our late-morning plans for a rendezvous with family, and we walked through the woods and then toward these two cavities (hey, if it’s the right word, it’s the right word) in the rock.
At some point, I realized that we were far up above the path we had taken into the hills. We were up where I thought we couldn’t be. And I also realized that the way we had gotten there was by putting one foot in front of the other. Ours were not pretty strides: Victor wasn’t swimming regularly like he used to, and my occasional morning runs hadn’t gotten me into good hiking shape. But we still found energy in continued motion.
It seemed like basic self-help material, but I wanted to say it anyway: We humans can do amazing things just by continuing to move toward our goals. Victor agreed, and said that a lot of people don’t. I like to write, and it occurred to me that working on a manuscript, or even a good blog post, is a lot harder, or at least more mysterious, than walking up a steep but defined path. What they have in common is you have to keep going.