Over 400 days ago, I began walking daily. I began walking for exercise purposes and as a way to start each day with a moment of solitude. I had no expectations going into this practice, no goals or benchmarks I wanted to hit. Minus a few days here and there, I’ve managed to keep it going, to keep walking. And I couldn’t have imagined the ways in which this practice would heal me.
Recently, when I hit my 400th day of walking, I took a longer walk to celebrate and thought about why I’ve stayed committed to this practice even when I’ve wanted to quit, and reflected on how my life has changed over the last few years. Amidst a year of uncertainty and doubt, I am better because of walking.
My walking practice has not been something I’ve shared with others, for the most part it has been a solitary and intimate practice. But when I walk – even though I am alone – I don’t feel lonely. I’ve taken my daily walks across the country, committing to the practice even when I’m traveling for work or pleasure. I’ve taken my daily walks in locations that hold the most gorgeous vistas, like Rocky Mountain National Park and in the hills of Montana. I’ve taken walks in suburban sprawl, neighborhoods where houses are only several feet apart and house cats watch you from window sills. I’ve taken walks when I didn’t want to, where they have been just a quick jaunt around the block near my hotel, because I’m tired from a day of travel. I’ve also had my fair share of airport walks, which are pretty self-explanatory: my daily walk happens walking from Gate A12 to D47, and if I’m lucky I pass a Starbucks on the way.
Walking has taught me about the power of commitment. It has taught me that prioritizing something that makes me feel easeful and at peace with myself – even if people don’t understand it – isn’t selfish. It has taught me that I am worth it. Walking has punctuated my life with the gift of presence. I notice the small things now: the direction the clouds are moving that day, the patterns of bark on trees, the way rain sounds. This newfound presence has carried over into my everyday interactions, creating within me more of a desire and awareness of being someone who makes people feel seen, safe, listened to and held. I notice the color of peoples eyes when I’m looking into them and the different ways my friends hug me. I am a better person to myself and others because of my walks.
Here are some life lessons I’ve learned while walking:
• Look up.
• Meaningful habits happen daily.
• Pick up the trash. It’s not your problem, but it is your Earth.
• There is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices.
• Making a commitment to myself and following through is what Love looks like.
Walking daily has blossomed into something much deeper than hitting a step goal or getting outdoors. Although it has been both of those things. It’s about living in the pause. About embodying the phrase “thank you” when I step on the Earth. About taking a moment, whenever I feel I need it. And whenever I think I don’t.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but your peace is important. Carving time for yourself is crucial to your healing. Every step you take, even if you feel lost, is leading and guiding you. Do not lose sight of how far you’ve traveled in this life. I know that every path hasn’t been beautiful. I know that some days it feels hard to walk through the absolute rockiest parts of the path. But you can make it through – step by step.
Home is anything and everything and anyone I can walk to. May I always find joy in the steps. This is my prayer.