Do The Walk
I just got back from my morning hike. Michael and I have been doing this every morning and we love it. Each day we try go a little bit farther. Today we got up to 9500 feet—our cabin is at 8900 feet. It took us 1 hour and 16 minutes, from start to finish, stopping to eat a little snack before heading back down the mountain.
It’s pretty cool to see that my body can adjust to the thinner air and climb the trail before me. I wasn’t always so willing to take this walk:
(I wrote the following post two years ago. I loved rereading it and thought you might enjoy it as well.):
(All photos for this post were taken on my iPhone.)
Let’s admit it. When it comes to doing things that you know are good for you, you can act like a little child. There are those times when you just don’t want to. Inwardly you feel like a rebellious little brat who just refuses. “You can’t make me.” “You’re not the boss of me.”
Or you’re like a whiney, pouty little kid. “I don’t feel like it.” “I can’t.” “Just leave me alone.”
Or there are those times when you are too cool and too smart to do it. “That’s okay. You go ahead.” “I’m fine.” “I’ve already tried that.”
There’s a little kid inside of each of us. Keeping us from getting what we truly want.
I just got through reading Do The Work. In it Steven Pressfield gets us to acknowledge that in the pursuit of any personal goal or creative dream we WILL meet resistance. Resistance is what holds us back. It’s what firmly stands in our way to keep us from achieving what it is that we want. Pressfield lays out a great strategy for overcoming this “dragon” of resistance.
The force of resistance can apply to a lot more than just the pursuit of goals. In truth, it rears it’s ugly head whenever good is pursued. It often shows up in the form of that spoiled little child.
That child showed up big-time for me today. Even though I am in the beautiful Rocky Mountains enjoying my first ever sabbatical, I was in a funk. A grumpy mood. So when Mike said it was time to get out and go on our daily hike I procrastinated. I protested. I pleaded. I found myself face-to-face with that inner “dragon” of resistance.
Hiking sounded like too much worrrrrk. I’d rather sit on the couch and stay grumpy. That was much easier. I had lots of excuses why I could skip going outside today. Thankfully, with Mike’s gentle coaxing, I found that I could put on my boots, grab my poles, and get outside.
Within five minutes of walking the rewards started to come to me. By the time we got back home (an hour and ten minutes later), my mood had drastically changed and I felt more like my true self.
How did that happen? What are the rewards? Why is it crucial to get outside—in and among nature—and walk as often as possible?
I discovered three reasons:
1. You find yourself living in the present.
Because the terrain is unpredictable, you have to pay attention. Unlike walking on smooth concrete or asphalt, you have to watch your step. You have to be alert. There are dips and rises, rocks and branches, twists and turns. There’s not a lot of opportunity to get lost in your worries or your fears. You have to pay attention. You get to be fully present.
2. You find that all five of your senses are awakened.
Being fully present to what’s around you automatically awakens your senses. All of a sudden you are alert to new sights, new sounds, new smells, new touches, new tastes. You feel fully alive. (HT: Ken Davis for teaching me about living fully alive.)
To give you an example, this is what was I experienced today:
Touch: The first thing I felt was the wind.
Stepping outside, a strong gust of wind whipped across my face and through my hair. It even blew my hiking poles out of my hands before I could get a good grip on them. I had to pay attention.
Taste: In order to get to our path in the woods, we had to walk up a dusty dirt road.
(Here’s a view looking down that road.)
With such strong winds the grit on the road was lifted up and swirled about every which way. It stung my face as it flew in my direction ending up in my mouth and my nostrils. “Humm. Dirt has a distinct taste. I’m tasting earth, mud, a little rockiness…” Pewwy.
Sight: Soon we were on the trail. Now I really had to be alert.
There were rises and falls. Twists and turns. Rocks and branches.
And wonderful surprises.
There were signs of spring and new life everywhere. (Those are baby Aspen leaves popping out.)
Smell: It took me several minutes before I realized that the wind could not find its way into the woods. Instead of my nostrils being full of dust,
they were overcome by the sweet aroma of pine needles, cottonwood trees and freshly sawn logs.
Hearing: What I love the most about this little tucked-away, foot-path in the forest of the Rocky Mountains, is the companionship of the stream.
The trail snakes back and forth tracing the journey of the freshly melting snow from up above. The stream stayed close by my side, talking and keeping me company the whole while.
The gurgling, bubbling, splashing, swishing sounds, coming from this stream, are all at once invigorating, soothing, comforting, and renewing. I could sit and listen to it all day—every day. I just might.
3. You find that you have gained a new perspective on whatever is on your mind.
I can’t believe I almost stayed on the couch in a grumpy mood. I was in a funk. I couldn’t “do” anything. I couldn’t find one ounce of creativity or thankfulness in me.
I overcame the “dragon.”
I got up and got out.
By the time I got home I was full of optimism. I was full of thankfulness. It was as if God had set up a treasure hunt for me. All I had to do was get out and get walking. Get looking.
I was full of creative ideas, dreams and hopes. My perspective had changed.
I had been transported from the vantage point of a single, isolated couch to the vantage point of wide open spaces, snow capped mountains, forests, lakes and streams.
All because I didn’t listen to that spoiled child. I did the walk.
I challenge you to get out and Do The Walk.
—> engaged in the present,
—> alert to all five of your senses and
—> seeing your life from a new perspective.
Get out, and
Do. The. Walk.
Question: Where can you walk or hike close to where you live, or is this a metaphor for something else in your life? What treasures can you discover?