We sure have a lot to worry and fret about these days–our own health and whatever problems we might be having, challenges our friends and family members are facing (so numerous these days), and lately, the very serious, heavy and daunting news of the world. Although I am not at all a news hound, I can get overwhelmed by the little I read and hear in the news. This past week, whenever I’ve felt grumpy about the weather, my petty grievances, or my various silly irritations, I’ve been saying to myself, “You’re not in Ukraine.” It does help to put things in perspective, though it doesn’t solve anything. I know that right now, I am exceptionally lucky. Even though I have worries and fears, they are not for myself. I am lucky.
For me, walking outdoors is usually the antidote to any negative thoughts, worries, or fears I’m harboring. This is what helps me most to shake off a bad mood, even in the cold, and especially with a friend and/or a dog–but even on my own. I often walk alone or just with my sweet dog Miles. But I do, too, love to walk with friends. I remember a particular recent time when I had been indoors most of the day, getting more and more frustrated with my computer and technology in general, and I suddenly texted my neighbor for a walk. And she said yes! I rushed out into the street and waited for her. As I breathed in that cold, clear air I grew calmer and calmer. As if I was meditating. Just breathing. In with the good, out with the bad. Ahh.
And then off we went. Fast. We walk at a similar fast, energetic pace. Not jogging or even speed walking, but fast enough to feel it. Not too fast that we can’t talk, vent, and sometimes rant. That day I ranted and pretty soon we were both laughing. And then the sun was setting behind all the bare neighborhood trees and it was just beautiful.
When I got home I felt totally reset. My brain, my soul, my body, my day had all been reset. The button had been pressed. Such a blessed relief. Walking is the best. It doesn’t even have to be in nature or in any particular kind of spot. My son loves to walk all over New York City and when I go there, we walk and walk and walk. I suspect he gets the same beautiful benefits there. In with the good, out with the bad. Walking as meditation.
“Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.” ― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
“But the beauty is in the walking — we are betrayed by destinations.” ― Gwyn Thomas
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.”― Ellen DeGeneres
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems right here on my blog.
Thanks for listening,
P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”