Saturday, May 12, 2012

Famous First Steps

It's 4:40 pm on Saturday, and so far I've taken only 4,108 steps. Yesterday I took fewer steps. I take an average of 10,000 steps each time I play indoor soccer. My mom says that I never learned to walk. As a little child, as soon as I took my first step, I was off and running. I really wonder how many times I tried before I got it right. Even then, I wonder how many times I fell before walking became second nature.

Walking is a miracle. How does anyone do it?  In high school, after I tore my ACL playing basketball, I took very few steps... but soon I was off and running again. How did I or anyone else take any steps at all today?  How many steps does the average person with an average life-span take during his or her life? How many collective steps have been taken by the entire human race on planet earth since Adam, or for my more scientifically minded friends, since the first bipedal hominid?

This is what happens when you give me a free pedometer. I want to take more steps. Before I step away from the computer, I would like to pay tribute to a few historical steps.

Aside from the awkward steps of Orrorin tugenensis or the early australopithecines, consider Adam's first step out of the garden. What a giant step! Granted, he couldn't really go back after having sampled the tasty fruit. But it was a big step nonetheless. (Which raises another question: Did Adam eat the whole fruit? or did he just take a bite and think "Wow, now I get it.") As he approached Eden's exit, he probably glanced back for a second, looked at Eve, and then exclaimed in the Adamic tongue "Let's do this!"  Upon which our first parents planted their first mortal step on telestial territory. They walked into uncharted territory.

Think about intrepid Peter on the Sea of Galilee. As the Savior Jesus Christ approached him, walking on the water, Peter desired to come unto Christ. Before he wavered on the waves and wobbled in the wind, he stepped out of the boat and onto liquid! What a giant step! He walked on water.

Also, consider the first Mormon pioneer's first step toward the West. Not content with telestial or terrestral treks, he or she took a confident celestial step, knowing that Zion was out there somewhere. The pioneer walked through the wilderness.

Now, consider whichever step, whichever figurative leap of faith you need to take today. It may not be out of a garden or toward the West, but whatever it is, you can do it. And if you stumble, if you fall, so did those before us. They just kept getting up, and they kept moving forward, as Elder Holland said today at the ground breaking ceremony for the Provo Temple, "in the cold and through the night."

Finally, remember that even Neil Armstrong's first step onto the moon was imperfect. Of course, he had to do it in a bulky space suit with moon boots. But it wasn't perfect. Not only that, but his famous declaration, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." was also imperfect  (He forgot that pesky little article "a" before "man"... and this on broadcast television!). But he walked on the moon!
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As an addendum to this post, today I spoke with an amazing young lady who walks with a slight limp because of a congenital condition of cerebral palsy. It wasn't easy for her to learn how to walk, but her steps are beautiful. Talking to her reminded me of a beautiful story that I watched on the news that will bring tears to your eyes. If you haven't seen it, watch these steps of a six year-old son with cerebral palsy toward his father who has recently returned from military duty in Afghanistan.