A dozen years agoI feel nervous and almost change my mind. A clock ticks and tocks on the mantelpiece. The small office smells of magnolia paint and aftershave. The headmaster of the school I teach at is a busy man so I will get straight to the point. The first year of my teaching career has gone well. So this is not a sensible career decision. This small moment in an everyday setting is the beginning of a new trajectory for me.‘I am sorry, but I have decided to leave.’‘Oh dear! Where are you going?’‘The South Pole.’‘St. Paul’s? Lovely school.’
A few years agoI feel nervous and sleepy as I climb down from the night bus into my first Indian morning. I heave on my rucksack. The warm air smells of sea and sewage. Palm trees rustle in the breeze. I am surprised at the lack of occasion I feel, because this small moment is the beginning of something bigger. I walk down to the beach, followed by giggling barefoot children. Waves rush up the hot sand and slide back down again. There is a row of slender wooden fishing boats hauled up above the high tide line. The sun rises from the ocean horizon. It is time to get moving. I am about to try to walk across southern India, all the way to the other side until I can watch the sun set into the ocean.
Eight months agoI feel nervous rather than excited as I stir my tea. I always feel this way before new adventures. I’m in McDonald’s, the only place in town still open this late. Hard plastic seats, piped pop music, weak tea, the smell of chips. A very ordinary setting for a small moment that might lead to something bigger. I have had a new idea about how to write a book. I’m going to serialise it by email and give the whole thing away for free before it’s even published. I check the time; I want to get started before McDonald’s closes. I know that I’ll lose enthusiasm if I delay until tomorrow. I tap away on my phone, setting up a new mailing list, frustrated by clumsy thumbs. I already have a traditional bricks-and-mortar, 9-to-5 book publisher. Nothing they have done in 200 proud years of publishing recommends my late-night McDonald’s idea. This book will mean a significant change of direction away from them. It might not be the conventional path, but it feels intriguing.
If you decide to live more adventurously, then you too will encounter these moments, whatever path you choose. You and I might strike out in very different directions, but if you are curious about the world and eager to live a little more adventurously, then we are heading for the same destination.Trying to summon up the guts to step out of your front door and begin is difficult. This is the Doorstep Mile, the hardest and most important part of any journey. Are you ready to walk the Doorstep Mile?