I have this awesome gym buddy, Bailey. I can credit her presence and encouragement in my life to a great deal of my physical and emotional health over the last five years. Periodically, rather than going to the gym, we opt for a nice, long walk instead. Inevitably, near the end of our walks, whether it was 40 degrees and windy, 57 degrees and misty, or 65 degrees and sunny, Bailey says “this was perfect walking weather.”
What I’ve come to understand and appreciate, though, is that there’s no weather that’s not kinda perfect for a walk if a walk is what’s called for. It’s the weather we bring to it.
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Over the last year, I’ve been returning to Blacksburg, VA periodically for my storytelling residency leading up to the ten-year anniversary of the shootings that occurred in April 2007. Apart from this work feeling important and being one of the things that helped me to come round to understanding what I’m truly meant to do in the world, I’m so happy to return to this community that was a part of the formation of my character as a young adult, this community that taught me how to live in community and be a citizen, rather than skipping shallowly across it like a stone across water.
I’ve been back in April, August, November, March, and will return for the culmination of the project next week for the ten-year anniversary on April 16th. Each time I’ve visited, I’ve gone walking at Browns Farm because it is quite conveniently connected to the backyard of my host’s home. This place is magical in all its raw and cultivated beauty; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to re-visit it across seasons, especially as I’ve become increasingly aware that I am bringing a different self on each trip, much like a film or book you return to periodically and notice different things each time because you’re at a different place in your life.
I always appreciate learning about the continually evolving science around the salubrious effects of walking, mostly because, try as I might, I’m just never going to be a great runner. There was a great story that came out recently on NPR about a culture in South America who have the lowest heart disease in the world because they walk so much. Ultimately, I’ve also come to understand that the spiritual/meditative, and even social opportunities that walking brings are as healing as the actual physical effects.
Not to mention that you get to see the beauty of creation along the way…