A Philosophy of Walking

And she walked.
And she walked.
She walked until
Arriving at
The home of
Peace and Joy.
Discovering once there,
She had been
Here all along.

I went for an hour long walk this morning. My body and mind did not want to go. I went anyway.

Just as a cool glass of water slakes my thirst on a scorching hot day, going for walks quenches the thirst of my soul and heart to know my true self, to heal, to release, to allow joy, and to be at peace. Walking guides me in the loving way to process life, to fulfill life, and to let life be.

For the past 18 years I have been going for walks. The meaning and depth of the walks have shifted throughout the years. What started as an activity simply to satisfy my desire to be active, bloomed into a walking practice. A practice to process healing, to release, to discover my authentic self, and to connect with nature.

Going for a walk at least three times a week has literally kept me going when I felt I could not carry on, and propelled me into bliss in times of joy. Each time I walk I have a different experience. At times, the walk overflows with peace and bliss and at other times, I’m ready to be done the second I begin. Those times are when I can’t seem to get out of my head. Worried about this, that, or the other; or lost in the past or distant future. Turning the worry over and over like one would a compost pile. Hoping a resolution will bloom from the compost pile of worry.

Most days the walking, along with nature as a helper, snaps me awake from tending the worry compost pile. My entire being melds with nature during these walks and reminds me what I already know. That the worrying only buries solutions deeper in the compost pile.

Going for walks and being amongst the trees, sun, clouds, grass, rocks, flowers, bushes, birds, wind, and weather nourish my heart and soul. Just as fruits and vegetables provide this body the nourishment it needs to continue; walking does this, and much more, for my heart and soul.

Going for walks is like being at an outdoor art gallery where nature changes the artwork every day, in fact every minute at times. Walking teaches the art of letting go of that which you find beautiful and meaningful. Walking teaches to quiet the mind, seize the moment, breathe and let soak in every morsel of beauty nature shares.

For the beauty nature displays while on a walk, is ever changing dependent upon the time of day, the season, whether clouds obstruct the sun, and whether it is near sunrise, midday, or sunset. Walking teaches the art of experiencing the continual changes of life as nature experiences the changing seasons.

Going for a walk opens the writer’s spigot and helps to flow the words of my heart and soul. I know it may seem I’m assigning much responsibility for these walks. In truth, my walking practice works in concert with a meditation and mindfulness practice, along with a writing practice. All of these practices to be held grounded by the practice of allowing myself to physically feel the emotions of life. This quintet of practices guides me in walking into the unlovely aspects of life and welcoming uncomfortable emotions.

I’ve been walking with my kids since they were infants. I cherish every single walk taken with them. They are 17 years old and 13 years old now. Once they were old enough for one to stay at home, I began going with each one of them for a walk once or twice per week and a walk as a family once or twice per week. I continued to have walks alone, one to three times per week. Now that they’ve gotten older, the walks with each of them has slowed a bit. Yet, it is my hope that I opened their eyes to the beauty and philosophy of walking.

When my daughter was seven years old and my son three years old; I discontinued paying for cable and eventually donated our television. Walking is one activity that took the place of time spent in front of the television. I was moved to incorporate picture making into the walks as well. I have thousands of photographs of our walks throughout the years.

Whenever my son or daughter had a tough day, I would be sure to have a walk with him or her after dinner. The three of us had many deep and meaningful conversations during these walks. Mixed with periods of silence to simply enjoy the beauty. Not to be left out, mixed with much fun and silliness also. Rolling down hills, playing with our shadows, catching leaves as they blow from the tree, hitting pine cones with sticks, running through sprinklers, playing in the mud, feeding the ducks, helping worms cross the sidewalk, and making nature photographs.

I was not only moved to photograph our family during these walks; I was moved to photograph nature herself. There are only a few occasions I’ve gone for a walk and not taken at least one photograph. These photographs helped to inspire poetry to flow forth from my heart. I had never read or written poetry up until about four years ago. This seemed to be an extension of the walking and other practices.

I fought myself on going for the walk this morning. It was 32 degrees outside and I was already cold. I wanted to get warm and cozy, sit and write this story. My heart knew the moment I stepped foot on the trail, I’d be grateful I listened to the call of the walk. May you be inspired to explore how walking could create a shift in your life; whether that be ever so small or ever so big.

©2019 Camilla Downs
(Photo made by me – 2016 – Geiger Way Lookout)

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Amazing news! My 17 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here.

Wonderfully exciting news! My 13 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

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