The Strange & Wonderful Alchemy of a Morning Walk

I never cease to be stunned by the power of a morning walk.

Even on day when I am encased in winter clothing against the -20 winter air. Even when my glasses are fogging up, my peripheral vision is blocked by the hood of my parka, and I have to ball my hands into fists inside my ski mitts to guard my fingers from the cold. Even then, a walk will work its magic.

Today, I start off grumpy that I can’t see properly, cranky that my vision is so limited and that I can’t enjoy the fresh air against my skin, except as filtered by my face warmer. And yet, by some strange alchemy, not fifteen minutes and one mile later, my mood is lighter, my cheeks are glowing and I am able to see, to really SEE. I don’t mean the see the sunrise, or the pink-lit tinge on the snow, or the rabbit tracks (without my glasses, no way can I make out rabbit tracks). I mean I can see the world clearly, and I see what I need to do: answers to thorny problems bubble up and the truth presents itself, at least for the moment.

Since a moment is all we ever get, that’s a good enough truth for me.

These past few days, well, weeks really, I’ve been floundering about trying to crystallize the unifying theme for a book that I am writing, the critical thread that will stitch the whole thing together. And then it dawns on me: the disparate nature of the pieces I’ve written so far doesn’t matter. They work together despite their varying shapes, and tones and sizes, they coalesce, and that is the message itself, the critical thread I’ve been so desperately seeking.

And poof. I’m not fighting reality anymore. I’m seeing it. And when did I see it? In the last hundred paces of my walk this morning, the walk that started out so grumpy and fogged up. I was sauntering down the home stretch to my house, my eyes up, contemplating a solitary crow sitting in the bare branches of a neighbour’s tree. We were cawing at each other, this crow and I, having a bird-to-human conversation and, in any case, my book was the furthest thing from my mind. That is when the answer drifted down and landed on my shoulder like fairy dust. Or crow dust, as the case may be.

We have everything we need all the time, I realized, standing in my driveway and watching the sun rise afterward. When we feel doubt and fear and insecurity creeping up our spines, what we may need most is a few precious moments alone. A pocket of silence to relax into, where we can loosen the grip our mental fingers have around the questions in our minds and we just check out that morning sky (even if it is a wee bit blurry because we’ve taken off our fogged up glasses).

Walk. Just walk. In silence. With the cold and the crows and the sun, or whatever shows up when you step out the door. If you’re lucky, something in the air may shift your mood, alter your focus, and maybe, just maybe, things will seem a little clearer afterward.

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