Don’t be afraid to fall.
The bad news is we’re all falling. The good news is, there’s no ground below.
The first few steps are pretty shaky, but that’s ok. To tell you the truth, that’s how it’s supposed to be at the start.
To begin with, you’re not learning how to walk, you’re learning how to pick yourself back up when you fall, which you’ll be doing a lot. It doesn’t matter if your balance is no good or your coordination is shot. It’s fine if you can barely place one foot in front of the other. All you need to learn right now is how to get yourself off the ground.
This skill will be useful later. Even after many years, long after you’ve learned to run and jump and climb, you’ll still keep hitting the ground, so you’ll be glad you learned how to do it. Falling isn’t as frightening if you know you’ll be able to get up again. Losing yourself isn’t as scary when you know how to find your way back.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, just relax and get the hang of things. This is the beginning of your journey after all. There’s no telling where you’re going or what’s coming. Nowhere has proven itself interesting enough that you want to get there or unpleasant enough that you want to stay away.
Time passes like this for a while. You become more stable, more independent. You grow. You stop falling as often so you start to think about where your steps are taking you. You stop looking at your feet and notice how huge the world is, how far there is to go in every direction.
So you begin a journey.
Maybe your journey begins and ends in the place where you start. There’s no shame in that, maybe travelling just isn’t for you. Just because you can walk doesn’t mean you have to. Right? Just fall down once and be done with it. Take a seat. Make yourself comfortable.
Alternatively, you could pick a spot on the horizon and start walking towards it. That would be fine too. Maybe you reach it and maybe you don’t, but you’ll see the world along the way. Of course, the place you were aiming for will look different once you reach it, distance has a way of distorting things after all. But you had no way of knowing that when you started. You can just pick somewhere new and head towards that.
Or you could continue to walk as you did when you were still figuring it out. Or better put, you could continue to walk as if you are still figuring things out. You can walk without a sense of purpose, without a fixed goal, allowing yourself to be led where your feet take you.
I’m not saying that any of these is better than any other. There is no right path. I’m not even convinced there’s an easier path. Just different types of dead ends and barriers, obstacles and pitfalls. If you walk for long enough, there’s no escaping the need to get back to your feet.
That’s why you learn it first.
One day, without warning, your journey will come to an end. You’ll reach the end of the world, or, if you stayed in place, the end of the world will reach you.
However it got there, the end is a place where you cannot walk. Where there’s nothing you can do but fall.
How you’ll feel at that moment, how you’ll cope, is the sum of all of the times you’ve proved to yourself that you could find your way back to your feet. Every time you found yourself somewhere you didn’t expect to be and found your way back.
The first few steps are always shaky, but that’s ok. To tell you the truth, learning to walk was never the point. You learn to walk so that you can experience falling. So you can become familiar with the feeling of the ground beneath your feet, and learn that you’ll be ok when it’s no longer there.