My grandson, David Jeremiah Garcia, began walking yesterday. Oh, he's been standing on his own for a few weeks, and he's taken a very tentative step or two, but yesterday he took a step while reaching for me, and doing that sneaky grownup thing, I moved back just out of reach. David kept stepping, and I kept moving back, encouraging him forward the whole time. Then I reached out, picked him up, gave him a big hug and kiss, and said, "You walked!" He smiled and wiggled a bit. He knew he'd just done something amazing. Needless to say, it made me feel good that the first walking David did was to get to me -- his Papa. We then called Mama and Grandma in from the yard and showed off for them.
This whole experience has been a reminder that we are constantly learning to walk, in one way or another. There are all sorts of steps we must learn to take. First we learn to balance ourselves and stand upright. Then we hold onto something and practice getting one clumsy foot in front of the other. Then someone we trust lets us hold onto their hand while we practice for the real thing. At last comes the day when we let go and take those anxious, uncertain steps and walk.
That is how it has been with so many aspects of my life. When I went to Marine Corps bootcamp, the first thing I had to look for after getting off the bus was the famous yellow footprints. We had to learn how to stand all over again -- heels together, feet forming a 45 degree angle. Then we had to learn how to walk, together -- left...left...left, right, left! "Don't bounce, this ain't a dance sweethearts!" "Get in step, get in step!" "The other right foot!" For 13 weeks I learned how to walk, until I was able to march off Parris Island as a United States Marine.
The latest walk for me, of course, is my writing. I've been learning how to balance, and how to take a few tentative anxious steps. Now, all of a sudden (or so it seems) I am walking -- stumbling and clumsy, yes...but writing! David just learned how to walk, and he will spend the next couple of years perfecting his steps. Soon he'll be walking without even thinking about his steps; he'll only be concerned with where he wants to go. He's given me a refreshing shot of courage, because I know that while I'm having to pay too much attention to my steps right now, before long I'll write and only be concerned with where I want to go.
David Jeremiah Garcia, I love you, and Papa's so proud of you! Now I want to succeed so you can be proud of me.
[Photo: David Garcia holding his Papa's hand at the Milledgeville, GA, Christmas parade, December 2, 2007]