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  • Mark Leyland Smith

First Step

A few weeks ago, I received a card bearing this message. It was sent as an acknowledgement

of one of the many personal and professional steps I have taken over the last few years. In

this case it has felt more like a series of long leaps in re-discovering where I find fulfilment.

I write this piece on my 57th birthday, baking in the heat of Extremadura where the plains of

olive trees and oaks seem to stretch to infinity. Logic tells me I have more years behind than

in front of me, yet never before has the future looked more expansive. Never before have I

been as curious to discover what steps lie beyond those I can already perceive.

I have read the message on this card many times and it is not what it says that intrigues me,

but where it starts from – a single step. This implies to me some form of physical movement.

My interest is in what lies before that first step. Clearly there must be a drive or impetus to

take it, which itself arises from a thought, idea or desire; a mix of cognitive and emotional

energies. But what comes before that? Where does the germ of a thought or desire originate?

External stimuli, from overheard conversations or passages in a novel, for example, can

trigger a thought that moves us quickly to action or one that is slow to burn. They create

internal reactions leading to choice on whether or not to take that step. But what about when

the origin lies within ourselves and its voice, over time, intensifies to the point where an

action or step becomes a compulsion? There is a point at which we start to become aware of

it physically in our bodies, or through a surge of creative energy, or an awakened thought

process.

What makes me curious though is how we can tune into that voice at an earlier stage, when it

is almost inaudible and so easy to ignore. What if we actively listened to it and found a way

to acknowledge its presence? It is after all a critical part of the long journey we are on and

can weigh heavily if not given space to grow.

Taking time to look back over my own steps and discoveries, I realise that, for me, the single

step lies not in action, but in making a conscious choice to tune into my inner voices at the

earliest stage of their development and to acknowledge their presence within myself and to

share with others; listening to them and giving them room to evolve without judgement. From

this point the journey truly begins.

I have finally taken the step to listen to one of my own inner voices that has been within me

for many years. It is to write and publish an article, so here it is.

What voices are you listening to today, on this day of your own long journey?

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