I believe in talking long walks as a means of inspiration. Jane Austin took long walks. She was a great believer in them. I aspire to be a fraction of the writer she was. She has long fascinated me with her propensity for walking as well as her ability to write. For years I have tried to journal my way to self discovery. In my long quest to fashion myself into a real live, author I have tried my hand at journaling more times than I can count. I even took a class on journaling. Each of these attempts at unleashing the “true” me on the crisp pages of a notepad have ended in failure. I remember once, years ago, Oprah convinced me that I should keep a gratitude journal. After three weeks the only thing I can remember being truly grateful for was when I lost the small, black diary I had been carrying around everywhere. Every time I try to journal my feelings I get lost in some self-pitying vortex. I seem to slip down into this hole of never ending self-doubt and despair.
Then a few years ago I got a dog. He was little and not very well behaved. He needed an outlet for his energy, so we began walking together. During that time both he and I learned to trust each other. We experienced the world around us and made some “trail friends” amongst the menagerie of people and animals that crossed our paths. It was bitter cold when we began our walks, but the fresh air did me good. I came to enjoy the wind on my face. I looked forward to the way my cheeks felt numb and overly large; as if someone had injected them with Novocain.
I began to notice that all the walking really began to clear my head. When I am out there, my over weight beagle huffing and puffing alongside me, I can let my mind wander. My thoughts flow in and out of my head happily. I don’t believe in a personal God and don’t pray. But being in nature and feeling like a participant in its ebbs and flows connects me to my spiritual side in a way nothing else has. Nature won’t help me find my car keys or tell me whether to accept that great job offer, but it is always there. The rhythms stay the same no matter what I may be going through. I can count on the biting wind in January and the low hum of crickets and bees in the hazy days of August. My long walks are my meditation, my prayer and my path to self discovery. When I put pen to paper it is inspired by what is revealed to me when I am out on my own, walking.
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