Some days I wake up with an elephant on my chest.
Well, you know, a metaphorical elephant.
But it really feels like an elephant is sitting there.
My chest feels literally heavy.
There’s a whole lot of shit going on … isn’t there?
Some of it right in my own little life. (Details unimportant. Sadly, I suspect we all have some. 🙁)
Some of it out in “the world.”
Weltschmerz maybe? (not sure I’m using the word right.)
Maybe that’s what I’m suffering from.
Okay, never mind. Let’s just call it existential dread. Might as well call a spade a spade.
So that’s how it was this morning.
It was, in this case (I could tell), both “personal” & the usual “global” stuff.
These are trying times, after all. I hear the Big Boys are planning a war. Well, they’re always planning/carrying out wars, of course.
In this case, against Iran.
But you know? Right now, I just don’t really want to know about it.
There’s just so much other shit already…
So … I’d woken up with the elephant.
As I drank a cup of coffee, I read a chapter of Manual for Survival - A Chernobyl Guide to the Future … just the sort of book guaranteed to really lift the spirits …. you know? Learning more about the lies & coverups & treachery among so-called “leaders” in the aftermath of the April 26, 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine. It’s a book I’m reading slowly – really, really slowly – usually one short chapter at a time. It’s very heavy. It only adds to the elephant problem. (& yet, being who I am, I feel obliged to read it. & truthfully, it is fascinating … in a horrifying sort of way.)
Then I recalled this lately-acquired gem of a quotation about walking:
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being...I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” – Soren Kierkegaard
(** more great quotations about walking here)
& I thought “Yes!”
Decided I would go out for a walk, & walk right away from all the shit.
As almost always happens, I knew within a moment or two of heading out that I’d made the right call. Gave a cheery wave to a woman who lives down the street who was out walking her dogs, then saw a cute little kid dilly-dallying up the street, playing his own little game of hide-and-seek … This cute little boy made me smile hugely. 🙂 I was hearing lots of birdsong too. 🙂 🙂
All that just walking down the block to the lake & Boardwalk!
& yes, I am hugely privileged to be
a) “retired” now
b) living so near Toronto’s east-end jewel, the Boardwalk along Lake Ontario.
Note: I don’t always walk by the water. I’m far too much of an anarchist to live by rote, or by “routine.” Walking-wise, I generally just follow my nose. (I must have a pretty good nose, ‘cos I can’t recall a “bad” walk, ever! Does such a thing even exist??)
& note this too! It’s an extremely dreary day today. Gray. (Raining now, actually, as I draft this while sitting in a coffee shop.)
But ….there is just some kind of magical alchemy that occurs when you walk! I’ve written about this elsewhere (many posts & quotes & resources about walking at this spot). Just think how integral walking is to our nature. Just muse on how long human beings have had these legs!
The point is, you DO walk away from your troubles.
Provided you keep at the habit for a while, & watch out for that “monkey mind” & its habitual (usually negative & repetitive) thoughts.
This little item can be helpful. (I keep it up on my fridge, as a reminder.)
“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. That's a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control.” – Elizabeth Gilbert (Free Will on Dec. 23/15 )
Sooooo…. my walk was great! Sure, I had an occasional negative or sad thought along the way. But I mostly just walked away from them. (My legs just plain really LOVE walking.)
& I saw a heron & a couple of swans
… maybe even a Baltimore oriole!
& chatted about birds for a bit with a friendly lady out on the Ashbridges Bay walkway.
& listen, I know very well that not everyone is
b) living in a great neighbourhood by the lake (in a shabby apartment, okay? Just for the record? 🙂)
Nor have I always been! You can (& should!) walk wherever you happen to live – it’s not so much about Nature as about getting those legs moving for a while … though some lovely trees & birdsong never hurt, of course.
The happy outcome makes the effort of finding 20-30 minutes out of your day (longer even, if possible) hugely worthwhile. Let’s face it, even cities have parks & small oases of trees.
& heck! If you can stomach walking in a shopping mall (not my cup of tea atoll!), go for it!
Or even set yourself an errand a 10 or 15 minute walk away, & then walk there (& back).
& then keep this little habit up for a while until one day it comes to you that you’ve become addicted to walking!
If you want to walk with someone else, fine! That’s how I started out. A 20-minute walk several times a week with a good friend. After she moved away, I just kept walking … ‘cos I realized I was hooked! Now, I much prefer solitary walks.
I’m pretty convinced we can all use some quiet & solitude. A break from devices & conversation & other people’s agendas.
In the midst of the cacophony of the ever-ramping human insanity we are all of us surrounded by – immersed in – in these so-challenging times.
Walk. Just do it!
“Walking is truly medicine.” – Max Lugavere, author of Genius Foods & 'Breadhead' filmmaker, quoted in episode 2 of the Dr. Mark Hyman 'Broken Brain' series.
p.s. a couple more specific “how-to’s” to get you on your feet, if you need them:
** the links inside those postings will almost certainly be duds. The result of a blog migration a few years back. 🙁