I'm Taking a Walk
I'm Taking a Walk
"I'm taking a walk. I'm going outside.” John Prine
I learned the value of taking a walk at a young age. As a teenager, when I was having a hard time, I would climb the small hill behind our house and sit on a rock. The view from up there shifted my perspective. Everything looked different, smaller — the houses, the cars, the animals, the people, and most of all, my problems. Impossible situations that weighed heavy on my mind just a few moments earlier seemed to shrink in comparison to a much bigger picture. The further I walked, the more distant the chatter of my mind became, and like the music playing on the stereo of a passing car, the noise faded further and further away.
"A walk in nature walks the soul back home." Mary Davis
It's still the same. Today, when I go for a walk, the fog in my head clears, and I began to notice other things, like the sound of my feet crunching the ice crystals as I walk on the frozen ground. I hear myself exhale as I breathe deeper and release the tension I didn't realize I was holding. I feel my heart as it beats against my chest and pumps blood throughout my body, bringing a new awareness to some of the everyday miracles that I take for granted. What starts as a simple walk suddenly transforms into a treasure hunt filled with tiny details — an experience that awakens all of the senses.
Taking a walk is not a matter of exercise, although that is a side benefit. For me, taking a walk is about being kind to my body and my mind. It's giving myself a gift loaded with meaning — something different, something fun, something better. I walk to discover, and the world outside never disappoints. The rewards are bountiful — an inward sense of peace, a fresh perspective, an idea, or a sign assuring me that I am not alone. I always come back feeling better about life. After all, Mother Earth is the essence of abundance.
Most days, when I return, my partner asks, "What did you find?" Once, I came home with a story about the stump from a fallen tree. It looked just like a water bowl. My Great Pyrenees, Snow, thought so too. She lapped up the clear water as if it had been left there just for her. Another time, I found two giant Lion's Mane mushrooms, which still amazes me. I took them home and made delicious faux crab cakes. Sometimes I find a feather, or a rock, or the bones of an animal. Recently, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the brief glimpse of an owl flying between trees. Owls have specialized feathers that enable near-silent flight. Today I saw a buzzard. It was just what I needed to see, a timely message to let me know everything is okay. A buzzard is a type of vulture. It cleans things up. As old habits and beliefs come to the surface in my life, I realize it's time to get rid of the things that no longer serve me, the old decaying stuff. Sometimes I stand for a few minutes and soak in the warmth of the sun or listen to the sound of rain gently falling through the trees. Taking a walk infuses my life with meaning in more ways than I can count.
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks." John Muir
The ever-changing world of nature is a teacher that reminds me to be amazed and to notice — the earth I walk on, the expansiveness of the sky where the stars, the moon, and the sun exist, where the birds and airplanes fly, and the trees reach. It also reminds me that we are all connected, and every living thing plays an integral part, including me.
"When we reconnect with Nature there are measurable positive impacts on our physical, psychological, and spiritual health. Cultivating reverence for Nature and our place in it can profoundly change our lives." Dr. Peter Borton
Perspective is everything. Taking a walk offers a different view, like stepping out from behind the curtain and realizing there is an even bigger show going on outside. These days, I have an agreement with myself to watch the sunrise and sunset every day. Unless I climb to the top of the hill, the trees around my house are too tall for a clear view of the sunrise, so instead, I look west and watch as the sun softly illuminates the land. I also try to pause a moment and look up whenever I walk out the door or get out of the car (I don't want to miss something extraordinary because I was too busy looking down at my phone.) Stop, look, and listen. Those words I learned as a child before crossing the street are still relevant today.
"I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean."
from I Hope You Dance written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers
Most of all, when I take a walk, I feel smaller, like a tiny pebble in the stream. I have a renewed sense of gratitude, knowing that I don't have to do this thing called life alone. I am supported, nourished, and nurtured by a world that is alive. Nature also grants me a sense of wholeness and belonging — knowing I am a part of something much bigger and infinite. Some days, I want to stay in that sacred space forever, but I know that I can't, I have things to do. However, if there is one thing I am sure of, taking a walk does wonders for my mental health. It makes me feel better, and life doesn't seem to be as hard.
Trisha Leone Sandora