I go for a walk as often as I can. The alarm on my cell phone tears into my ear drums at precisely 5.15 am. It’s been set to shake me up from my dream state for months now. It gives me the satisfaction of waking up early, sliding the darned thing to silence (yes in these ‘smartphones’ everything’s a slide now), and going back to the land of nod even if it’s only for a few extra minutes. I finally rouse myself around half an hour later, sometimes it’s even an hour later, drag my track pants on, brush (more often than not I brush my teeth after the walk, I know, I know Egads! but I don’t care, it’s not like am getting up for a passionate lip-lock or anything right?) or not, select the podcast that I’m going to listen to during my walk, lace up my shoes and am out of the house. It’s a wonderful feeling actually. I wonder then why I don’t do it more often. That’s something to probe – if it gives me pleasure, then why don’t I practice it more? I think I am lazy. I don’t think there’s any getting away from it :)). Well sorry to digress. Where was I? Out the door and the feeling of embracing the day bright and early and all amped up. Yoo hoo day, here I come!
I listen to a podcast usually by Srinivas Rao of the Unmistakable Creative or by Lewis Howes. I like the people they interview and I like their interviewing skills and I like what their insanely inspiring guests have to say. So while that’s running in my ear, I’m also looking at the trees and the flowers and the grass and the hedges around the gardens and everything green in the driveway around our apartment complex, smiling at the many regulars who also go about their daily ritual of walking, at the neighbours who play badminton in the grounds out at the front and so on. So while doing my thing the other day, I realised some crazy but helpful lessons that I could learn from, from my daily perambulations. I’d love to share them with you, let me know if it resonates with you at all :). Here goes:
a) Don’t keep count – I have a habit of keeping count of the number of rounds I complete in the given time frame that I’ve set myself – 50/55/60 mins and 10 or 11 rounds mostly. I realised recently that I’ve slowed down a little, yes, my pace of walking has slowed down by say 2 mins overall. Am sure for world-class athletes that’d simply mean – RETIRE! For me it simply means “Renu, you’ve grown older and you’re body’s slowing down!”. However, I realised what’s the point of thinking about fast, slow, age, retire, number of rounds, time, etc. I am walking. Why not be fully present in and to the act of walking? Just enjoy it. Why keep count? It doesn’t serve a purpose right? Like it doesn’t serve any purpose to:
- Keep count of the number of emails you receive in a day or the number of unread emails looking darkly at you from your InBox.
- Keep count of the number of times your parents have forgotten to make that to-do list and purchase those items from the grocery store (it could be your lover/ spouse/ children/ room mate/ friend with benefit, etc.). Does it matter?
- Keep count of the number of times your friends have gone on a vacation abroad.
- Keep count of the number of times your colleague has changed his/her car in the last 5 years.
- Keep count of the number of ‘likes’ someone you know gets on FB.
- Keep count of the number of friends anyone has – having 999 friends doesn’t mean shit – on FB or other social media. Ask the person to list down the 999 by name in alphabetical order and I can guarantee you that by the time he/she’s on 85 it starts getting difficult and the person will start blowing air and puffing his cheeks like a toad.
- Keep count of the number of designer clothes or shoes or bags or whatever else is ‘designer’ nowadays that anyone you know possesses. Gucci, Pucci,Choo who?
- Keep count of the number of promotions and salary raises or client wins or fantastic breakthroughs someone you know has had. So what does it do for you if they have had the breakthrough? If it can inspire you to do your best and put your ass through the grind, to try and achieve the results you’re hankering for, sure, go ahead make it count.
- Keep count of the number of men/ women who’ve come and gone from your life. It wasn’t meant to be. Or just be happy for the enriching experience. After all how many of your friends would be able to proudly state that they’ve dated 20/25 men / women in their lifetime? Enjoy the moment, be unapologetically you in every encounter and live the experience.
- Keep count of the number of degrees your friend’s son acquired over the years and squirm with shame at the (unfair??) comparison with your child. Should labels and degrees matter?
b) Acknowledge your co-journeyer – Yes, journeyer isn’t even a word. But hell if YOLO (You Only Live Once) almost made it to the Oxford lexicon, then maybe journeyer can also be a legitimate contender. So what do I mean by this eh? See, we’re all on the journey of life. There are a ton of other souls who are journeying with you and it’s no big deal to smile at them along the way. Life is no fun when soul mates aren’t there along the way to smile at, greet, thank, learn from or be inspired by. Competition, comparison, envy, maybe the go-to terms in the Ivy League colleges of the world intended to keep you in the rat race like hamsters on a wheel, let’s acknowledge them but not bury ourselves in them on our walk of life shall we?
c) Look up, look down, look all around, notice – While you acknowledge your co-, journeyers, take a moment to look up at the sky, the birds if there are, the fluffy white clouds, simply breathtaking sight of the plume of fuelled smoke that a plane 30,000 feet above farts away to glory, the tops of trees swaying in the breeze, the hedges of shrubs protecting the turf around which they’ve been arrayed, the different shades of green, the flowers that have sacrificed their lives and lay mute on the ground wondering about the next step that’ll trample them to oblivion (or moksha maybe??), the child that stares at you unblinkingly making you wonder if he’s attracted to the halo of energy that you exude, the elderly and their measured walk and the inevitability of ageing, the young and their unbridled enthusiasm, yes notice, notice, notice. Why? Because it means you’re paying attention to life. Your life. And it’s not a blur of ‘to-do’ lists, missed goals, shifting goal posts and emptiness. Life unfolds in every moment, it’s up to us to notice, and live it. There’s so much to live for ain’t it?
d) Piece of shit doesn’t a walk mar – Yup. Shit happens. We shit bricks. Dogs shit. Everyone poops. The shit hits the roof. Your job is to notice that shit (refer point (c) above) and deftly by-pass it. Notice if you must without being squeamish, that it looks brown and beige in colour perhaps, maybe lumpy, loose, and smells like?Mmmm….shit?! Bypass it and leave it behind. Getting the shit out of your system is the best thing you can ever do,or else it can cause the toxins to build up and eventually who knows, you would have to undergo painful enema. Ye gods! Why go through such pain when all you have to do is notice it, recognise that it’s shit, sometimes acknowledge shit’s presence, maybe even smell shit from afar and realise that something ugly, messy, shitty is about to hit the roof. And in the ultimate shitty analysis also remember that shit gets wiped out / trampled upon/ bites the dust/ washed away/ obliterated as it eventually will. Let it go.
If I were to summarise the above 4 lessons I’d say this: don’t be too attached to the outcome of your journey, just ensure that you’re wholeheartedly, soul-fully, immersed in that moment, in that journey, acknowledging those who’re there behind, ahead of or around you, being grateful for their presence in your life, step with confidence, one foot in front of the other, so what if you do step into shit once-in-a-while, it will eventually get ground to dust belittling its own significance, be thankful for the bounties of this wonderful, magical, delightful, mystical absolutely gorgeous and abundant Universe and finally being grateful that you’re an integral and unique part of the warp and weft of the pattern called Life.
That’s what life is all about. It doesn’t matter where you’re going honestly, because when you’re walking many paths open up, yours for the taking, leaving you with choices and opportunities, beckoning you to be adventurous, seducing you with promising bounties and wondrous experiences along the way. Walking is life my friends, wouldn’t you agree? I urge you – keep walking!
(God knows I love Mark Knopfler!)