“As people are walking all the time, in the same spot, a path appears.”
John Locke – Enlightenment philosopher (August 29, 1632 – October 28, 1704)
IT’S New Year’s Day 2013 and this afternoon I took a walk along tree-lined country lanes through verdant fields in the whipping whistling wind.
A downpour worthy of Gene Kelly’s iconic scene in Singin’ in the Rain had just ceased as I stepped outside and watched the clouds break to reveal an untainted duck egg blue sky.
As I set off I thought of a book a friend recently gave me called The Art of Wandering by Merlin Coverley, which covers the history of walking writers from Plato to Rousseau and William Blake to William Wordsworth.
In it the Danish existentialist philosopher and poet Søren Kierkegaard is quoted as having said: “Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and 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… Thus if one keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”
Meandering is a method of giving meaning (or order) to madness (or chaos).
Your thoughts emerge then slip away like the clouds you’re walking under.
If the universe is a field of infinite quantum possibilities then the fields offer that too for a notion, an idea or even a paradigm shift can spring into existence when you’re ambling through nature.
It’s as if the combination of freedom and solitude – even if you’re walking with others – in motion charges and changes your cells.
You feel revived, refreshed and renewed even if you’re cold and exhausted.
And things can be viewed in a new light.
The special process involved in walking has been recognised the world over since time began.
From hikes in the beautiful British countryside, to the Aboriginal walkabout, to hikes to the summit of mountains and treks across Antarctica or the countless pilgrimages that have taken place for centuries.
It’s widely believed in these instances that the places people attend have some sort of magical power like Lourdes for example. But I think it’s actually in the journey taken to get there and the hope inherent in that trip that imbues the place with whatever one believes.
Walking, wandering, taking steps; therein lies the magic.
Along the way on my stroll I encountered two Shetland ponies grazing by a stream as the sun broke through the ashen nebula.
It was like a scene from a children’s fantasy adventure like The NeverEnding Story, The Princess Bride or Labyrinth where Sarah ventures into a huge maze to rescue her baby brother encountering weird and wonderful creatures along the way – like Goblin King David Bowie. You can’t beat a bit of Bowie.
Labyrinths are thousands of years old and have been found all over the world. The spiralling cyclical design is Fibonacci-esque – found in the patterns of sunflower heads and the twisting of our own DNA. It’s a symbol for wholeness and connectedness to the holographic universe and the world within.
The labyrinth is a walking meditation with a single winding path weaving its way around from the edge to the centre. The same path is used to return to the outside. There are no tricks, choices or dead ends in a labyrinth (unlike the one in the 1986 film). There are no wrong choices.
It is a symbol for the journey of life we all walk on with its twists and turns on the single path we take.
I consider the words of the Wiseman in Labyrinth who tells Sarah: “The way forward is sometimes the way back. Quite often, young lady, it seems like we’re not getting anywhere when in fact we are.”
The labyrinth loops back on itself over and over. Just as it seems you’re close to the centre it leads you away again.
It reinforces the idea that the journey is key and if you really experience the fullness of the way there, that’s what makes the destination what it is.
It’s in the way there (‘there’ never comes, only the here and now exists) where the threads of yourself are created and weaved together to form the ever-evolving tapestry of yourself.
On the way back from my amble I noticed a rainbow curving through the heavens and felt glad for the rain that had fallen not long before.
I was invigorated and inspired for the year to come.
If you treat yourself and everyone, everything and every experience with a smile, full heart and kindness then you won’t take a wrong turn.
Each step is the way.
Wishing you an adventurous, laughter-filled and lucky ’13!
“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.”
Charles Dickens – author (February 7, 1812 – June 9, 1870)
* If this prose resonated with you, why not make it one of your missions for 2013 to take part in a fundraising charity walk?