Proverb – Brooklyn, New York

The walk of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

“I learned this proverb as a kid growing up in Brooklyn.  My father used to use it all the time, especially when I would be anxious or nervous over anything.  To me this proverb means that the best way to approach any big obstacle or task in life, you must take that first step.  Essentially, one of the most challenging aspects of completing or overcoming any task or hardship in life is to begin: begin to work or begin to recover.  I believe it might be an Asian proverb but I’m not sure exactly.  I use it at work with my colleagues when we have to attack a huge task or project.  I’ve also passed it down to both my kids whenever they have come to me with anxiety over school work.”

Harold is my father and this is a proverb that will forever remind me of him.  He used it all throughout my childhood as an inspirational saying, because I have always approached him and my mother when I am stressed out about anything in life.  My dad’s father died when my dad was in his twenties, and while Harold mostly uses this proverb for handling tasks or assignments, this proverb applied more than ever to the recovery and grieving process.  I think this proverb can be applied to so many things in the world.  Any world wide problems, such as AIDS in Africa or global warming, are such monumental and challenging tasks, that people don’t believe they will ever see progress made and are afraid to begin the long journey.  But in order to achieve any goals and to solve any problems, big or small, one must take the first step.  After doing some research, the proverb originated in China and can be found in several publications but modified slightly.  The proverb appears in the feature film Coach Carter but in the following form: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.


Coach Carter. dir. Thomas Carter. Paramount Pictures, 2005.