Walking is really repetitive. When I go backpacking, I often hike an average of 16 miles per day. For most people, that is over 33,000 steps. And sometimes I hike more than that.
33,000 times per day, I pick a foot up, move it in front of my other foot, and then put it back down. And it is amazing. It seems ridiculous the amount of joy I find in doing something 33,000 times. Especially since it seems like it should be such a boring occurrence. 33,000 times is a lot of times to do anything (imagine if I played 33,000 C#’s on the flute every day; I bet they would be in tune after that!)
But it isn’t boring. “Repetitive” is a word usually used synonymous with “boring” but it can be quite the contrary.
Because each step is, in fact, infinitely different from the last. I could step on a rock, or into a hole, or lose my balance, or turn my ankle. It might be a short step, or I might be stepping over a log, or hopping rock-to-rock across a stream. Or I might be stepping into a new part of the woods, or into a coffee shop, or into a job interview, or onto a stage.
Taking a step can actually be quite scary especially if you are traversing some kind of cliff. As the old Tolkien quote goes “if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
But that is the beauty of it! Each step contains an infinity of possibility. It is a journey from one moment to the next. But we take so many of these journey’s that we lose sight of the magnitude of them. We become numb to the gravity of taking even one step.
Each note of music is that way: full of possibility, full to the brim. To play even one note can be to traverse a chasm worthy of telling a story about it. To play 33,000 notes would be an incredible adventure.
And we get to go on that adventure. In just one day, we could take 33,000 steps or play 33,000 notes. But if we stop paying attention because of the repetition of them, we never get to go on any journeys. The repetition can actually increase our awareness of the situation.
The key is to know that each moment, each step, and each note is overflowing with possibilities and to open up to that infinity.
(Image retrieved from wikihow.com)