200 Feet at a Time

There’s a metaphor I’ve been exceedingly fond of for quite a number of years. It’s an image that helps pop the balloon of any expectation that you need to have your entire journey mapped out in detail before you’re able to progress and grow and live and all that juicy stuff.

It’s this simple truth. When you’re driving at night, it’s not like the car headlights are showing you the entire route from Point A to Point B. They’re just showing you the next step on the road. But one after the other, seeing each next step a couple hundred feet at a time—well, that’s enough to get you wherever you need to go.


I’m assuming the resonance here for me is obvious. As an olympic-caliber overthinker and recovering perfectionist, I can recall all kinds of times when my fears about not having the path mapped out for myself kept me stuck and paralyzed in various patches of quicksand.

And I’m not pretending that I am the Queen of Decisive Action and Leaps of Faith right now. (If only.) Still, I’ve gotten more willing to take the occasional risk in life because I’ve built enough trust in this simple law of physics.

All I need to be able to see is whatever that strong next step is. As long as I’m a full-body yes to those next 200 feet of the road, I can take that next step and trust that the steps after that will reveal and unfold in their proper time.

I have found this to be a source of comfort in any number of circumstances over the years. Tonight the truth of the headlight’s view is front of mind for me because tonight is also the first night I’ve been back here blogging since my New Year’s Day declaration that I wanted to get back to writing.

I’ll admit, I have a vague number in my head of how many new blog posts I was imagining for 2020. And I’ll also cop to the fact that I am not going to be dishing up that goal right at this moment. Because, as I’m sure will shock exactly no one, a 7.5-week break between posts is well behind pace for this half-imagined halfway-goal. Whatever that goal may be.

Because here’s the truth of the headlight’s view. I’m a full-body yes to being back here, to trying to reconnect with my own writerly and readerly voice. So on the basis of that yes, I’ll move step by step down the road.

Do I know exactly what number of posts I’m going to write this year? Do I know exactly how I’m going to make time for them, or what I’m going to choose to write about? No I do not.

But I know I want to be here and that I want to be writing again. And that—that couple hundred feet’s worth of road?

That’s enough.


Image credit: Ian L. Public Domain.


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