Today is the first day that I begin to train in earnest for a seriously lengthy and difficult walk along the East Coast trail in Newfoundland next summer. After that walk, I have two others planned, including one on the le Puy route in France and another in Asia.
What's odd about it is that I'm not a walker, not naturally. I'm not driven to walk long distances or get wrapped up in furiously infused periods of physical fitness. In fact, I love pastries and banana ice cream and sitting down.
But about eight years ago, I started walking seriously. I became a hardcore, devoted walker, not because I wanted to be in great shape but because I wanted to see a country and landscape properly: on the ground. Walking gives a perspective of place like no other.
So far I've walked across parts of India, Spain, Honduras, Guatemala, and many more countries..all solo.
Truthfully, I am a stumbler, a walker who looks at the view so much she has to be mindful of her feet. Walking has become an act of willful disobedience in a world that insists we don't have time for self care or reflection. Walking solo in unfamiliar places has a bit of danger to it: but at the same time, it is empowering and helps me focus on my own heartbeat, rather than what everyone tells me to do. Every time I undertake a long walk, I begin it wondering why I said I would do it, mid way through feel like giving up, and at the end wish it would never end.
The goal is to walk 40 miles a week for the next three months.. I now walk 20, and this doubles my goal. Then it will raise gradually, adding ten miles each month, to 80 miles by June, and then taper down a bit before the first major walk in August. It is no easy commitment, but these kinds of challenges attract me. These are hours spent out-of-doors, in cold black mornings, before the sun awakens, and after work: the in-between and before-and-after moments.
The good today is self discipline, which as a writer one must have in spades, or no words fall to the page. And a walker without self discipline misses the inner walk that happens once the body begins to move in its automatic swinging forward.
Finally reaching Santiago, Spain, at the end of a long trek: The Camino Frances of the Camino de Santiago. No easy feat, it took months to complete. One of my finer accomplishments. Here I stand with a sprained ankle, but despite the tears, I made it .
Whenever I feel I cannot do something, I reflect back to these walks I've taken, and I am especially proud that I did them alone. As women, we need to do more things solo, without fear and without the company of "protectors"....we can do it on our own. That's the first step for me, today, in self discipline: believing I can do it again, alone.