I am walking with purpose, cranking up the miles and cleaning out the clutter storing up in my brain. Yes, the walking is partially because I need to lose a few pounds, but it is what I am gaining in this process that is a lot more important. Peace, solitude, creativity, relaxation, empathy, and forgiveness.
I know, you want to know what path I’m using so you can program it into your Fitness Pal! What is good is that it doesn’t matter where you walk, you can gain needed leadership skills on the journey. My walks are sometimes through our great park system. Those tend to generate the peace and solitude sections of my brain so needed to gain perspective and release anger and frustration. None of us are immune from the negative impact of carrying these twin emotions that are necessary, but if carried to long, become a burden. They move from motivating you to find your way through problems, to becoming the problem. Whether you recognize it or not, when you are sitting in those spaces too long, they wear on you and those around you. Trail walking allows you to work through what got you there, how you are going to handle it, and then leave them in the trees and tall grasses where they can no longer hurt you or those around you. This also opens a space for forgiveness–of yourself and those who have hurt you.
City walking elicits a whole different set of emotions for me. I am a people watcher and I love the action, variety, surprises, and scene changes that happen from block to block. I write in my head as I walk, strategic planning, poetry, responses to request made of me that I couldn’t think through at my desk but suddenly come to me as I ambulate the city. My spirits and hope are often elevated on these streets. I know my story is one of thousands of stories, my path uniquely my own yet still part of the larger throng, all of us hopeful that we are fulfilling our promise. I move past stone-faced businessmen, giggling teens, the mentally ill whose roads are strewn with obstacles that too few understand. I sometime listen to music or other forms of entertainment or news, buds firmly in my ears, but frankly the sounds of the street are better than any podcast downloaded to my iPhone.
Walking releases endorphins that tell my creaky knees that hiking 5 miles is a good idea. They fool me into thinking I’m 20 years younger, they liberate my thought processes and give me a useful, legal, high. My head is held high, shoulders back, step sure, and for that time when I am in the zone, a non-penetrable shield is around me. We all need this. We need time and space for renewal that costs us nothing and gives us so much. When our heads our clearer, we are better able to lead. We have the energy to slow our responses and make them more thoughtful. The added sleep we get from expending the energy makes us sharper and more creative. We widen our view of the world that often consist of a harried commute, lunch at our desk, and breathing the re-circulated air of offices that can kill our spirits, ideas, and souls. Walking with a purpose can change your perspective in a very positive way.
Again, no silver bullets here, just small things we can do everyday to improve our quality of life and give us time to see the world through a different lens. You can stay on the path that is full of hot coals, or you can choose your own and maybe learn something about yourself that you never knew. Strap on your gym shoes and make it happen!