Insights – Walking, Forgiveness, and Letting GoBy admin | May 28th, 2011 | Category: 2006, Columns, Insights, Summer 2006 | No Comments »
Walking, Forgiveness, and Letting Go
A while back I found myself without a car. I still had to get where I needed to go, and I had two good legs, two good feet, and all of my toes in tact; so I thought, why not walk? Why not ride my bike? Not being used to riding a bike after all these years, I found bike riding a little of a challenge. I had a cheap bike with a hard seat, and needless to say, I found walking a lot easier on my derriere. So I chose walking as my means of transportation to work, to the store, to the park, and wherever else I wanted to go.
I expected to lose weight and tone up, and after about four weeks of walking, I did see a difference in the way I looked. There were many benefits I didn’t expect and what follows is how through walking I found greater meaning in life and a greater determination to hold on in the face of adversity.
Walking was a sort of Zen meditation for me. When my journey took more than five miles, I found myself focusing in on my breathing. I found myself concentrating on each step.
According to the Ramblers www.ramblers.org, “ Walking has been shown to improve self esteem, relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve mood. Walking, particularly in pleasant surroundings, and with other people, offers many opportunities for relaxation and social contact.”
I have had my share of trials this year, having had to move away from my adult children. I’m forty-four and they are in their late teens and early twenties. For so long I advised them and guided them. This year I finally had to realize that they have their own minds, and all I could do is love them and let them go.
It was tough to let go because I have been the matriarch and their guide and leader all these years. Unhappily, I discovered I was a little too comfortable in that role.
I became devastated when they directed their anger and frustration at me, when they blamed me for their shortcomings and their failures, when they did not acknowledge the good that I helped them achieve. I suffered a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence because, after all, I had failed my children. I became depressed, and to top it off, I lost my car.
The first day I had to walk I was happy that I was finally going to get that exercise that I needed. I only needed to walk two miles that day, but I found myself walking three, and then four. I began to find peace with every step I took. Having lost my joy, I discovered my smile. The small things became huge, like the sunset at the end of the day or the sound of a wood crane in the late afternoon.
I have lost my smile
But don’t worry.
The dandelion has it.
- The Thich Nhat Hanh collection.
Thich Nhat Hanh was a Buddhist monk who practiced during the Vietnam War and against great odds promoted peace. He stated in his collection: “If you have lost your smile and yet are still capable of seeing that a dandelion is keeping it for you, the situation is not too bad.” I found that to be true in the lovely signs that nature gave me during my many long journeys.
One thing I appreciate the most is the feeling of the sun on my skin as I walked for miles. At first I felt discomfort, but I began to love the heat and the humidity. It became a part of my daily journeys. The sun began to represent freedom to me. I had the freedom to put one step in front of the other beneath a sun that would always present itself.
It is true that Peace is in every step and a minor task like walking can be a method to find that peace. Now when I find myself beginning to stress over life’s minor annoyances, I remember and hold on to the strength I found in walking when I was without a car.
I learned to hold onto the feelings of peace as my object. I learned to treasure the small moments of tranquility I found when my endorphins kicked in after traveling a few miles. I learned to capture my newly obtained feelings of empowerment and hold on to them. I in essence regained my self-esteem.
Traveling absently over the stone and pebbles that marked my path,
I heard the sound of the traffic as I found my way home.
In that noise I discovered the space where I had lost my joy.
Joy! I have found it.
It was never out of reach.
- Lisa Trimarchi