That crucial first step…


A journey begins with the first step

Was it that wise Chinese philosopher who said, “A journey begins with the first step?” Or was it someone else who said it? Makes no difference who said it. It is more important that the saying makes sense.

A friend told me at our high school graduation, “I am going to Mindanao to homestead. I will plant an orchard of dorian, bananas, mangoes, rambutan, gooseberry, santol, mangosteen, chico, guayavano, and duhat. I will sell the fruit in the marketplace and be a successful establishment.”

I congratulated him for his forward thinking and on his unambiguous goal. That was 50 or so years ago.

For the first time in close to 50 years I caught a glimpse of my friend at the centennial celebration. He appeared gaunt, emaciated, and weary. His stomach appeared bloated and a far-away look resided in his sunken eyes. I hailed him, “Hello my good man, how’s the homestead plantation coming along? Are you the biggest exporter of exotic fruits by now?” extending my hand toward him for a handshake.

With trembling arms and a withered hand he feebly and tentatively tried to shake my hand. He looked down as if embarrassed to make eye contact with me. I sensed his discomfort. “Hey Rudy… are you okay?” I said calmly. “It’s good to see you again… my friend…”

I felt his hand unceremoniously slip away from mine. He made no sound, he did not speak and his blank stare remained unchanged. His wife quickly came to his rescue. She said, “Please, please forgive him. My husband is not well. It’s the leukemia.” He draped his left arm on her shoulder. They walked away.

Later on that day I found out from our other former classmates my friend Rudy couldn’t take the first step to begin his journey to Mindanao to homestead his dream orchard. He was unable to make the first move. His untreatable condition cut him off at the knees. Being sick rendered him unable to raise enough capital to finance his venture; he languished. Like a flat bottom barge moored by the pier he sat there on the water, rocking with the tide and gathering barnacles.

Taking that first step is crucial to any journey we make, to any venture we take, to any voyage we embark upon. That first step launches us forward.