Do you know how many adventure stories are about a journey? The Incredible Journey, Voyager (a Star Trek clone about a star ship’s 70 year journey home), the Lord of the Rings just to name a few. What is it about going on a journey? I’d rather just go for a walk.
I love to walk, when I’m upset, or sad, or if I feel like taking a nap, I take a walk and wow it really gets me going.
One day I was in a particularly bad mood, and decided a walk was what I needed. But when I got to main street, there was so much traffic in town, I had to wait and wait before I could cross the road. That did not lighten the mood, where did all these cars come from anyway? I finally made it across and climbed the old ski hill. My heart was pumping, the anger began to lighten, and at the top I just walked around looking for more pictures to take. I was so refreshed that by the time I got back down to the road to go home, I, yes I, even smiled at the cars going by. But the miraculous thing was that after only two cars, the next one actually stopped for me to cross and smiled back!
My spiritual director asked me what does walking do for you exactly? I don’t know I never really thought about it, I said. But as always, a good question gives us something to ponder. It seems that walking takes my mind off of everyday problems. Oh, I start out thinking about a problem or something unpleasant but after a few good steps, and seeing a lovely flower or tree I’m reminded that everything is OK and as it should be.
The movement of legs, arms, the whole body in rhythm becomes a song or a dance, and it feels like being fully alive. The trees, the movement of the wind, a flock of geese heading south, all remind me that I love to be outside even at the end of October.
I watched Thich Nhat Hanh taking a group on a mindfulness walk in a city, probably NYC, and thought, wow, how can they do that, how can they be mindful and still be in a city? He says in Living Buddha, Living Christ: “To breathe and know you are alive is wonderful. Because you are alive, everything is possible.” The walk, the movement, the journey engages our lungs in deep breathing, and we learn that all those troubles and worries that surround us are not obstacles but opportunities to discover new possibilities. What are your opportunities and possibilities?