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Holten: Slow down, partner

You know what our problem is? We think only in terms of "steps." But life really isn't about steps. It's about the next step. Forget the "s."

Oh sure, it's great to think about the big picture. But no one gets to the top of a ladder without taking it one step at a time. If you start skipping steps, chances are you'll soon be looking up at the bottom rung from your backside and revisit that spot again and again until you wake up and do it right.

American author Napoleon Hill once said, "Most people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure." So you see, if you start skipping steps you might just be jumping over your own destiny. Then again, maybe you already have.

That's a tough thought isn't it; that you might have already screwed up your own destiny? It's like leaving your wallet at the mall, being too shy to talk to the love of your life when the opportunity arises or smashing your car into a light pole; it's a little bit stupid, mostly regretful and quite unnecessary.

Of course, it's a whole lot easier to climb a hill one step at a time and impossible at five.

But it's all about the get "there" phenomenon isn't it? We want to get "there" now because we've determined that our life will be perfect once we get "there." Of course, it won't be, nor is it supposed to be because our lives are all about "the ride."

That's right, for us, the ride is where it's at.

If you've never ridden a bucking horse, I can tell you that there are two types of rides; one where you're in rhythm with the horse and the other where you're not.

If you're in rhythm, it's like sitting in a rocking chair. If you're not, it's like being tossed around in an overturning automobile and nearly as damaging.

Only by countering the horse one jump at a time can you achieve that rocking chair status and even then it's not as smooth as a Cadillac, but it's the best that life has to offer.

This ain't Heaven after all, and nobody said it was going to be a piece of cake. Then again, who'd want it to be because if the stakes are higher the payoff is bigger and we're all looking for big payoffs.

That's why it's so hard for Super Bowl champions to repeat. Because once they've been there they focus on the big picture and forget about the little steps that got them there. And because the championship can never quite measure up to the nirvana they thought it would be. Neither money nor championships guarantees happiness.

The get "there" phenomenon is also why it's hard for alcoholics and drug addicts to overcome their addictions. Because often times they want to go from addict to clean in one step and are unwilling to pay the price along the way, but it just doesn't work that way. There'll be bad days mixed with good but in the end it's all good.

It's also why so many things seem overwhelming to us. Because we see them as very long roads that we have to travel, when all we really have to deal with is 1 mile at a time and enjoy each mile along the way.

I can remember when I was working at the newspaper in Boulder, Colo., and was transferred to California. I drove to Pasadena, Calif., through New Mexico and at one point I could see the highway stretched out in front of me for what seemed like half the globe -- a long snake wriggling its way through a maze of giant buttes.

It was intimidating from a distance but with Willie Nelson serenading me and desert winds blowing through my open windows, I decided to be delighted with it all and it turned out to be a great lesson in enjoying the moment.

Russian born American writer and novelist Ayn Rand once said, "The purpose of mortality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."

So enjoy yourself, one step at a time. It's better that way and chances are, you won't miss anything, especially your destiny.

Holten is the manager of The Drill, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at