During a five-year stint of adult education in Seattle, I took several courses including a couple introductory foreign language courses. They were taught by a gentleman from South Africa, Bill Vande Merwe. With about a dozen other students we wrestled to learn alphabets and vocabulary. As we struggled, instructor Bill never prodded us with any taunting words, such as “Stick to it you’ll get,” or “You must learn the alphabet by such-and-such a date, because the vocabulary and your use of the foreign language dictionary depends on it.”

No he was a wise teacher of us slow-brain adults. He always used encouraging words. And a favorite saying of his was,By the inch, it’s a cinch. By the mile, it’s a trial.” I had heard that saying before while growing up, but the way Bill taught me that saying stuck and it has helped me ever since to face any challenge by taking each one a step at a time. For Bill wrapped that saying in many other encouraging words and many a great story (including facing down a lion).

Thank you brother Bill for imparting courage. Ever since we met I have sped through many a mile, conquering many a trial, taking them an inch at a time. I lost my job twice after we met and found a couple other jobs taking each job a day at a time. That simple philosophy taught by you wrapped in encouraging words took me from Seattle, Washington to Green Bay and Madison, Wisconsin.

From there I went to Brighton, Michigan where I built a dream home out in the country on two acres. And when I thought I was settling down there to get to know my two boys, their wives and the four grandchildren of theirs, those simple encouraging words led me on to Florida. Day by day, trial by trial the soul courage you impressed upon me helped me smile through many a mile an inch at a time. Brother Bill’s courage-giving words gave me strength to get thru many dark days. And they bore surprising fruit. After my first public speaking event in Chicago, I spoke again in Washington, DC, then Denver, then Louisville, Kentucky,  And that was so much fun that when I spoke in San Antonio, Texas I wrote a song to the tune “76 Trombones” which I sang again amidst twelve-hundred people brought together at a Climate Reality Conference in Miami led by Al Gore and his CRL team.

Thank you Brother Bill for imparting courage to me to live through my struggles a day at a time and just take the next step.

Oh reader are you stuck in some dilemna? Don’t look too far ahead. Don’t cry about the big daunting journey you face. Just figure out the next joyous step you can take. If you inch along in a bright direction you can travel on. There are many places to see. Many new joys await. Remember that “by the inch it’s a cinch!” Know that someday you’ll be able to forget that “by the mile it’s a trial.”