We Make the Road by Walking

I am addicted to walking – one of those really good addictions. I got this going during a really, really bad patch in my life – when I felt as though my life had for all intents & purposes ended. I was learning on the fly how to get by, not just one day at a time, but 15 minutes at a time.

Walking saved my butt, you might say. (There were several other things that helped: my children, friends, music, volunteer work, & then later on, an active gratitude practice.) My sister totally “gets” this walking addiction, because she has it too. She says, “If I’m sane at all, it’s because I walk” (& no, let’s not go there, alright?).

I’ve long been convinced that walking is basically rather magical. An example of what I call “everyday magic.” It’s good for one’s body, of course – but it also works magic on one’s soul & spirit as we go along – one foot in front of the other &, hopefully, anyway, also tuning in to Nature & quieting a little at least that “drunken monkey” that’s always chattering so very, very noisily inside our head…

But there’s more to this “making the road by walking” business than that.

Kind of by “accident,” I came across Antonio Machado’s poem “We make the road by walking.” It goes like this:

“Wanderer, your footsteps are

the road, and nothing more;

wanderer, there is no road,

the road is made by walking.

By walking one makes the road,

and upon glancing behind

one sees the path

that never will be trod again.

Wanderer, there is no road--

Only wakes upon the sea.” (1)

I find these words in my head a lot.

It’s a very, very challenging time here on Planet Earth, lately, hmm? I really don’t think it’s going to become un-challenging any time soon.

How are we to deal with these countless, enormous, seemingly endless, intractable problems?

For many, perhaps most even, denial & ostrich-like head-in-sand-burying appear to be the strategy of choice. Head-burying isn’t likely to take us very far, though, I don’t think, so it’s not the course I’d recommend.

I don’t have a road map to or for the future, that’s for sure.

I just do what I personally feel called to do – what I have to do. I ain’t got no crystal ball (as Dolly Parton has said, “The magic is inside you. There ain’t no crystal ball”), so can offer no guarantees that anything I do or recommend is going to have any sort of predictable positive result.

But I think that may be mostly because a lot more of us have to get ourselves out there & make that road by walking.

At least, that’s how I think it is…


p.s. What I’ve discovered in my own life is this: first of all, I learned the hard way that having a road map of plans wasn’t always going to be much use (so much I don’t plan seems to happen, hmm?). I learned that I pretty much have to do the step I’m doing & plan my next step. I no longer really plan any more than that. Not 3 steps out, for sure. Just the step I’m on, which will lead me to the next one. And that one will lead to the one after that. So I’m not really at all sure where I’m going to wind up (who is??) – but I do have a very strong sense that I am at least headed in the right direction. I suspect that may be about as good as it gets.

p.p.s. A few quotes on walking here

(1) I first encountered mention of Machado in Paul Hawken’s wonderful book Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming. I Googled ‘Antonio Machado’ to find out more, and this poem came up.