When I started taking long walks, it was because I was broke. I took those 4-7 km walks because I had no money to pay for my transport fare and I needed to get somewhere to pitch a project or for free food. I would walk and walk with determination, come sunshine or rain, to get to my destination. No matter how tired I was in those days, walks were a matter of living for me.
They may have been difficult at first but eventually I realized they were good for me. Mentally I would count my steps and I noticed it helped me deal with my anxiety. It made me more observant, I saw more and more of people in the streets, on the roads and how they went about their affairs. Whether it was on a bustling afternoon or on a quiet evening, my mind seemed to take delight in wandering off and it would collect stories. After sometime, in fact much sooner than I had expected I realized I began to enjoy and even look forward to those long walks.
I discovered I could clear my head, accommodate new ideas, recite my affirmations, even lose track of time while I took those long walks. After I started to make some money from jobs I took on, I maintained this routine of walking, at first as an excuse to save money, but after I began to make more than enough such that trying to save on transport fares no longer made sense, i found I was still eager to take my walks and that those long walks had in fact become a coping mechanism for me. They kept me sane, kept me balanced and helped me feel grounded in this reality. My poverty at the time may have forced me to start taking those walks but I could not give the practice up even after I had come out of that poverty which was my most urgent suffering at the time; what to eat, where to sleep, where to go to get work, all seemed to disappear or at least blur out whenever I had a destination to walk to.
Maybe it’s true what they say, that some of our greatest epiphanies do in fact come out of our suffering. Those low points in our lives we wish we’d never have to experience may be the very channels that bring a white dove of peace, even if just momentarily. In my case, those first steps which led to what now seems to have become a lifelong habit of taking long walks, helped me quell my madness on days when I needed to stay sane the most, helped me see my suffering in the faces of other people I walked past on days when I needed to know I was not alone. And on the days when the rain would beat my back while I walked and walked, it felt as though the earth and mother nature shed my tears with me.
Those first steps have led to everlasting steps which have helped me bring forth healing, calm, as well as many beautiful stories and poems.