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When I Walk

An article by Tom Gilbert - copyright ©April 7, 2018

Me and my dog Shadow3

When I walk I go to another place. Literally, of course, as in the places my feet take me. But I am speaking also of another place, a meditative and contemplative space, where I can think, reflect, dream and just be.

For me, walking is more than exercise. Surely it does satisfy that necessary movement of body parts. Staying fit and limber is important, especially as I age. When I walk, however, my perceived age is not my actual chronological age. Certainly I do not feel sixty-two as I stroll, amber or trudge the path.

The Path. Part of my purpose in walking is to be on this Path. Not a destination, instead a journey. When I walk I write. Yes, my head composes thoughts and reflections that often turn into prose. I walked about a mile and a half before sitting down to write this piece.

When I walk I slow down. I take in the surroundings, breathe the air (which today was a bit challenging since the trees are blooming and my allergies have awakened!), and my sense of smell and sight goes to work. Even walking at a good pace I am moving slower than traveling in a car, riding a bike or running. This allows me to take in my surroundings with a greater awareness. That is important, for all too often I am in a hurry and looking in instead of looking out. Although I’ve been a distance runner for a dozen years or so, I am now discovering that walking is more to my liking. 

One of my favorite places to walk is near my home. It is a circuitous route around a flood plain. The starting and ending point is a neighborhood park, a favored spot of my grandkids. There is a bike path that is paved and there are dirt portions, too. In the middle of the flood plain, below the elevation of the path (there’s that word again), is the vegetation. Mostly it is a collection of trees. I’ve seen them grow a lot in twenty years. They are wonderful markers for the changing of the seasons. In winter their bare arms stretch to the sky, pointing to something bigger than us all. The summer brings waving foliage that dance in the wind and chatter their tree-speak. The fall has the trees bursting with color and shaking their limbs to scatter their leaves to the ground. Right now the spring buds are opening up and the light green newness says, "Here I am! I am new life, back again after another winter sleep."

I get inspiration from many sources. Reading is good and absorbing the words of great writers, philosophers, thinkers, artists and lovers of life is as important as the physical exercise of my daily walks. I need both to thrive.
When I walk I know I am alive. My true me comes forth, whispers in my ear, all is right no matter what you think. Be here now. Present yourself to nature and creation. Your little worries, problems, faults and regrets can be brushed aside for thirty minutes or an hour.

Just walk.

Just be.

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