Life is a wild, exotic, colourful, kaleidoscopic thing… Flow with it.
Walking connects you to the earth
Besides the clear health benefits in circulation, breathing, dopamine release to lighten your mood and gentle low impact exercise, walking provides time to think, to meditate and to step out of the rapid pace of modern life, out of the box of windscreen, TV screen, computer screen and handheld screen.
When walking becomes a way of life the benefits amplify. Moving at an ultimately ‘human’ pace results in a witnessing of the world in magnificent detail, meeting people along the way, noticing beauty.
When I began to go ‘walkingourworld’ it was for Balance, Peace and Freedom – big concepts to provide a simple solution for a world gone mad.
BALANCE with the environment by minimising the use of vehicles and stepping more gently; PEACE with each other by putting myself into the hands and hearts of people right where they live; FREEDOM to move from place to place, cross borders, see the sights that others miss in their rush to get somewhere.
The surprising thing is that more than 9,000 kilometres of walking has delivered me personal balance as my two legs work in balanced unity; peace as my world has slowed to a pace where stress has ceased to exist; freedom by living an extraordinary life, free of the possessions and responsibilities that once tied me to a security that I have learned is an illusion.
“Can we take a bit of a walk together?”
I was at a festival in Byron Bay when my friend Huw Rodgers, a young man I’ve known since he was about 18 (he’s 30 now) approached me and asked that question.
I agreed immediately.
We set out the day after the festival from Byron Bay beach to walk the lighthouse loop. It’s only about five kilometres but it was to be a pretty decisive wander…
Just to get a little clearer; when Huw and I catch up it’s never about the lighter subjects of life. We go deep and we go there quickly.
As we walked, Huw shared that, while life in Melbourne was passably good, it really didn’t feel like it was going anywhere in particular. He was keen to take steps to shift that and to experience more of life, to take some risks, to meet some new people, to shake off inertia and to witness more of the world.
I can’t be quite sure how that went from a discussion to a plan, but within the space of that slow walk – with many stops along the way to gaze at the magnificent turquoise blue of the ocean on this eastern-most point of Australia, the pods of dancing dolphins playing in the waves, the three teenagers bravely (or foolishly) swimming from Wategos Beach to The Pass and lurking stingrays the size of small cars drifting with the currents – we took a decision to go to Europe to share a walking journey together.
Neither of us has the wherewithal even to buy the plane tickets.
And we are going in May.
It wasn’t always this way
I was trained in the world of corporate media which, in my experience, has become one of the most manipulative and soulless industries in our modern world. It became all about pushing people around, manipulating attitudes, shaping opinions and influencing business people to buy buy buy more advertising that was cleverly designed to influence listeners and viewers to feel like they needed more and more stuff in order to fill up their empty meaningless lives.
Perhaps that sounds a little harsh, but that is how it felt to me. Get this thing before stocks run out! Listen to this well known public figure tell you how their life has vastly improved by buying this widget. Buy and consume this fast food that has slightly less nutritional value than the plastic toy we’ll give to your children for free – because we know that your children can nag and harp on about something like no-one else and they know less about discerning something of genuine worth from instant gratification than you do. Manipulative, soul destroying and seemingly devoid of ethics.
I was taught in that environment that if I set my ‘goals’ for anything up to ten years I could make it happen; get anything I wanted. I became really good at it too. Climbed the corporate ladder, met with the approval of those higher up than me. Wore expensive suits, drove expensive cars. Dated expensive women and drank expensive scotch. Lots of it. Too much of it. It numbed me really effectively. After the scotch drunk in excess at night, I discovered that two strong painkillers in the morning would take away the pain and get me through the day. Numb, but functional and bulletproof. I could take away a person’s livelihood and sack them with impunity. Reach targets. Maximise profit. Push as hard as me – numb, focused, soulless – or move aside and I’ll get someone else to do it.
Something had to give
It was me.
My second-last corporate media position ended when, above work commitments, I favoured meeting up with the parents of my best school friend, who had died tragically in a car accident when he and I were both 16. I hadn’t seen them for 17 years and they were coming through the city I was in for just a day and a night and wanted to catch up and share some time and dinner. The owner of the corporation I was working for contacted me after I had happily agreed to meet with them and, in the ensuing conversation, told me to cancel because he wanted to meet with me at the same time. I said no. I knew what I was doing. He sacked me.
I stepped down a notch or two and took a lesser job in a bigger corporation. I worked there for three years. The money was pretty good. I started at 8am each weekday in a daily ‘sales maximisation’ meeting (after having driven an hour in peak-hour traffic) and finished about 7pm. Most of my waking hours were dedicated to making enough money to live a life, pay rent, entertain myself with ‘stuff’ on the weekends.
Then, one day, in one of those meetings, my ‘superior’ made a statement that woke me up. He said that each and every one of us in that meeting was mediocre because, if we weren’t, we’d be somewhere else doing something important and powerful.
I sacked myself.
It’s been quite a journey since then
I’ve worked through the hard yards of establishing and operating a small ‘conscious’ business, negotiating and experiencing a failed marriage, driving junk cars, wearing op-shop clothes, dating and loving women with big hearts, connecting with friends who don’t care what my bank account looks like. I surf more. I dance much more. I laugh a lot more. I drink a lot less. I don’t use painkillers at all.
I can genuinely report being ‘in the flow of life’.
Recently I heard a speaker addressing festival participants; “You were gifted this life. Everything was gifted to you. Then someone stole it from you and began to sell it back to you. And you bought it and you keep on buying it. Wake up people.” It reminded me. Whether I force, manipulate, yearn and push or rest in perfect natural great peace, life keeps coming at me. For at least the last four years, since I left everything behind, sold almost all my possessions, walked away from what many people saw as a really good life experience living in comfort near Byron Bay – and began to walk from place to place, slowing down to be at peace with the pace with which I was born into this world – life has been interesting, abundant, enticing, challenging, beautiful.
The really valuable things I left behind have all been returned to me. Friendships, love, time to think and play, laughter and tears, happiness and sorrow, intimacy, excitement – and my soul – are all still very present and abundant. Life keeps coming at me.
So the next walk is through Europe and the Middle East
I walk for balance, peace and freedom. So far that has been completely welcomed in four countries, across over 9,000 kilometres. I’ve met and interacted with literally thousands of people along the way. I’ve been received with love, care, interest and generosity everywhere. I still have no solid idea how I’m going to get to Europe in May, but that isn’t really important.
My young friend Huw and I will go to Europe in May and begin a walk together. We’ll start with a walk from London to Findhorn community in Northern Scotland. Then to Europe and very likely south from wherever we land, because it’ll be getting cold by then, so we’ll follow the sun.
Unless life has something else in store.
Whatever actually happens I will only be sure of when it’s happening.
Life is a wild, exotic, colourful, kaleidoscopic thing… Flow with it.
Peter Walker left his partner, family, career and friends, sold or gave away all his possessions and began a personal pilgrimage. Peter is a writer, orator, teacher and student of the possibilities and opportunities of life. #walkwithme | http://walkingourworld.org
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