Pic taken during one of my walking routes.
We live in a wonderful flat. It is part of a beautiful urbanization located at the top of a small hill in the middle of the countryside. We are far from being isolated but we do live free of traffic, city noises and away from the crowds. We can see the sky, the mountains & the trees from any of the rooms and light floods wildly through any of the generous windows around the apartment. So far for us, it is a great place to live.
Within this context, I love going out for a walk or a bicycle ride around the area. There are many possible routes to follow, the choice being subject to the time & effort that I am willing to invest.
Sometimes I go out with a very clear plan in mind of the route that I am going to follow, and I complete it as such. However, on other occasions, I modify it as I go just because I feel that way or because the circumstances persuade me so. Some days I go out without any idea at all and I just let myself go with the flow, taking every step as it comes. Occasionally, I’ve surprised myself by enjoying it so much that I realised all of a sudden that I’ve been out far too long already and I still have to go back!
Even when I am aware of how good it is for me, sometimes I sabotage myself by faffing around, not wanting to go out and searching for dozens of excuses to justify my apathy:
- it is too cold
- it is too hot
- it is raining
- I don’t have the time
- I have far too much to do
- I have a headache
- my back hurts
- they will deliver the parcel I am expecting
- I want to sit & read my book
- I have cleaning or cooking to do…
All wrong answers! I am proud to say that laziness is winning fewer & fewer debates, as I manage to offset the excuses with all good reasons:
- if I am cold, then I will get warm
- if I am hot, then I will get some fresh air (and also a tan!)
- if it is raining, then I will be able to wear that lovely waterproof jacket that I hardly use and that I can also enjoy the wonderful smell of wet soil after the rain
- if I have no time, then I can organise myself better and that allocating time to this task is an investment in my health
- if I have too much to do, then this is actually one of the most important tasks I should be fulfilling
- if I have a headache, then going out will help it disappear
- if I have a backache, then waking will strengthen my muscles
- if I am waiting for a parcel, then they will leave a notice for me to collect it
- if I prefer to stay in reading, then my book will still be waiting for me when I return
- if I have cleaning or cooking to do, then I can do it later and even faster as I will be more energetic after the exercise…
Depending on the route I choose, I will find more or less path colleagues: trekkers & runners on their own or with their dogs, cyclists, horse riders, a mountain biker sometimes, birds, butterflies, goats even & goatherds, flowers, sounds of nature, smells… So I go back home with their interactions imprinted in my thoughts.
Whilst out walking, sometimes I play some music, audio or the radio. Other times, I just do without, imbued by the ambience. If I have any lack of interest, it disappears after just a few minutes, as inmediately I begin to feel stronger, more confident, positive & optimistic.
And always, without exception, the 2nd most difficult part (1st one is actually going out) comes right at the end, when I have to walk up the hill (even if I go out on the bicycle, I always end up walking & pushing it) to get back home. (Let me remind you that we live at the top of a small hill)
That's how I come back, not tired, but energised, satisfied, richer than when I left. Maybe I didn’t walk as much or as far as I initially wanted to; maybe I turned around because the river was too high or because I could see some big dogs running free in the distance and I felt scared. Perhaps because the wind made the route uncomfortable or hard to go through.
But that’s life: a path full of surprises where we can grow & learn, and there is only a part of it controlled by me. I had better let the rest be as it comes, sharpening the look to realise that it is great as it is, simply perfect. Even if my plan was broken by the sudden arrival of two hundred goats, even if I am back with a blister on my ankle, even if I am surprised by a storm on the way and I get home soaking wet. It is life.
Maybe this post is ending up looking like one for hikers?
Or maybe this is not about hiking at all? ;-) What do you think?
"Even in my disquiet
not always certain
the paths diverging, converging
merging in me
walking on the way
the path I see before me
choosing the steps
with the guiding of you
your spirit leading
me up over the gunnels
the boat left behind
the water wet on my feet"
Poem Walking on the way, by Raymond A. Foss