As I walked along a riverbed in the State of Washington, I felt summoned by the surroundings and drawn to this particular location. The rocks along the riverbed were smooth and rounded, having been worn by the abrasion of the water. The light refracting off the water made me feel blessed to be spending time in nature once again – walking, exploring, foraging, and on another adventure in search of beautiful spots.
It was a beautiful spring day, and I absorbed the feeling of history and longevity evident from all the lichen spread across these stepping stones. Although the powerful waterfall flowed in the background, the shallow water near my feet resembled glass sitting perfectly still. The clarity of the pebbles submerged in the water in the foreground outlined the purity of nature here.
My eye had been on this location for quite a while, and I knew there was a great image waiting to be discovered. On this day, I had arrived with some different equipment, and I was excited to rush down to the water to find the perfect shot. Upstream a little bit I saw this little grouping of vibrant rocks, and was immediately hopeful that this was the spot! By using a low vantage point and the right composition, I was able to make these seemingly small rocks completely fill the scene while drawing the viewer right into the silky-smooth waterfall in the distance. The resulting image is so peaceful, as the light softly highlights the vibrant green leaves in the background while the rocks in the foreground look as if they are cemented in resin.
Nature suggests models and principles for the solutions we seek. These stepping stones mirror some of the trials and tribulations of life. They are reminders to take one small step at a time and to watch for slippery areas. At certain times we may make a step forward and find that the footing is not secure, and it is not a safe place for us. When water levels rise, like life’s stressors, we need to take a deep breath and allow the passing of time for the water (or chaos) to recede before attempting to move forward again.
Stepping stones are described as a safe pathway to help a person to keep dry while crossing waterways like rivers and streams. The stone’s flat surface emerges through the water while the underside stays deeply anchored in the earth below – only disrupted by high water levels or strong currents that alter their position.
My life experiences have taught me that problems are opportunities. Each one of us can decide to make our own path each step of the way. I believe difficult circumstances can bring out the best in us if we understand how to turn them into learning experiences. It can be hard to believe, especially in the moment, but if you embrace that thinking and embrace your difficulties, you find new power and a path through the chaos.
Trials come to every one of us – and they usually do not arrive individually or in limited quantities – they just keep coming. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, and life is not going to be easy all the time. As we navigate through challenging times, it is helpful to remember that we have the choice how to react to the obstacles in our life – they can be stumbling blocks, or they can be our stepping stones.
Adversity has shown me that all growth initially depends on identifying necessary change within ourselves. Regardless of your path so far, there are yet more stepping stones to take. One foot in front of the other across these stones is how we climb over adversity. Slowly but surely, we make incremental gains in change and transform old ways of thinking. Instead of fighting negative thoughts, we can consciously reach for thoughts that feel better. We can choose a different behavior — one that better serves ours goals.
Stepping Stones have a purpose of getting you to a higher elevation so that you can advance to another stepping stone, and then repeat the process until you are on solid ground. Recognizing that whatever you are doing right now is simply a phase in your life or a stepping stone is extremely empowering. By using this thought process, I am able to find positivity in any situation and use the optimism to solve problems. I have learned that even the longest and most difficult ventures have a starting point and that the journey of a thousand miles really does begin with a single step.