Take a Break

Day 150 / 900 miles

One of the most personal joyful aspects of the Walk Around Lowndes project is that I’m free to stop & start as life demands and the body prescribes me to do. In fact its a down right cushy endeavor when you think about it. At night I’m never (in the words of Randy Newman) “miles and miles from your nice warm bed”, or away from my splendid kitchen that turns out meals that make us mumble through mouthfuls of bliss “myghwaadastgud”, a hot shower, and all the comforts that sweeten life. The people I really tip my hat to are the ones who take on quests, journeys of discovery, or pilgrimages that completely deprive them of the comforts that make all of us, at the end of the day, sigh ahhhh (wether audibly or inwardly) as we lay our head on the nice cool pillow. Those pleasures are downright beguiling. Comfort trappings is an apt way to describe the spell that entices too many to seek only it – comfort.  Even accomplished walkers who take on epic journeys where they choose (or are forced) to stop, retreat to familiar digs and then re-start where they left off, agree to intermittently deprive themselves of simple pleasures that aren’t luxuries, but are just the routine stuff taken for granted. Who among us is even mindful (let alone grateful for) clean underwear to put on each day, as compared to the thru-hiker who’s positively happy-dance giddy on fresh underwear day. (Its a wonder that those who break up their journeys over the calendar don’t fall under the cushy spell before time to head back out and just say screw it!)

The people who are willing to cast the bow line from the dock and set out for the high sea, to see what’s there, and can they survive in it, are cut from a rare weave. They don’t get 21 hours of respite for every 3 hours spent doing the thing like I do. We’re acutely aware of the relative stability of life in the Western World that’s supposed to be as close to enlightenment as humanity has to offer, (though often more resemblant of West World sci-fi) and to voluntarily leave that level of security and stability takes testicular or ovarian fortitude that few possess. Many of the epic walkers I refer to are what I call Kung Fu walkers. They walk the earth as a way of life, never ceasing until that fateful timer bell dings. Great writers (Henry David Thorough), philosophers (Friedrich Nietzsche), poets (William Wordsworth), monks, explorers, activists, evangelists, etc. who walk scores of thousands of miles over a lifetime are in this class. Then there are people who’ve accomplished individual treks, that cumulatively may cover less miles than the Kung Fus cover over the course of a lifetime, but somehow their accomplishments are mind boggling perhaps because we can see on a map just where they’ve journeyed and grasp the lengths of time required to complete them. Theres actually a surprising number of people who’ve walked around the world. Just a few notables in that pantheon of the walking deity include Polly Letofsky who walked 14 thousand miles in 1800 consecutive days, across 22 countries (pushing a modified baby stroller) to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Jean Beliveay walked 46,947 miles across 64 countries over 11 years just to see the world. Robert Garside ran 35 thousand miles around the world. Karl Bushby after completing 16,777 miles is now in Russia completing his walk around the world in a straight line from Chile to England. And, although not a circumnavigator, I have to give a shout out to Matt Green who (in addition to having walked across country three times) is nearing completion of a 13 year journey to completely walk every street of all 5 boroughs of NYC. After watching the documentary, The World Before Your Feet about his NY journey, I found myself inspired by it enough to try our little ole Lowndes County Georgia on for size. Let me be very quick to say, I am in no way putting myself in the hall of such walking Giants mentioned above. But I admire them.

So, you don’t have to take on the world, just take in little bits and pieces of your familiar outside world for 20 minutes at a time as often as you can, and you’ll feel like you’ve conquered it.

Speaking of taking a break, I’ll be doing just that for the next 11 days while I walk with my daughter in California. Happy trails.