Life is messy. Can a walk solve the world’s problems?
Sometimes life can just get to be too much. In those moments, I like to get outside to take a deep breath and go for a walk. Ergo, can a walk solve the world’s problems?
What led me to ask this question is that I was taking a “Facebook break” recently. There are days when I wonder about the whole idea of social media and what it’s doing to the human psyche. But it’s a modern tool of communication, and so I dutifully check my account. I scrolled through my news feed and watched various posts scroll by.
When things seem bad….
First, I saw the stories about racism in the US. Next came articles about the recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I felt my chest tighten. I should have stopped then, but I continued, taking in opinions about everything that’s wrong with the US, comments about the current president and more. Finally, I really had to stop when I scrolled to an article about how a chimpanzee clung to his tree as bulldozers dug all around him.
Hot tears of frustration welled in my eyes.
I found myself wondering how I could fix all the problems in the world, and the subsequent frustration in knowing that I can’t. The tears started freely rolling down my cheeks then. I felt the pain of the animals who lost their homes due to human development. I wished I could magically take away the plastic island in the ocean upon which penguins are living. Crazy ideas popped into my head of how to fix the political situation in this country that leaves people so divided, and…and….
Let yourself feel the emotions
In that moment it was all just too much. I had a moment of grief. I let myself feel it and I stopped what I was doing to let myself experience this emotion. For me, meditation is the key to processing my emotions.
Incidentally, I was getting ready to go on my afternoon walk. As I looked out the window, I asked the question, “How do I deal with all this? How do I live in a world that is sometimes so cruel?”
Even before I left, I felt the answer to come to me.
No one is supposed to carry all the burdens of the world
A voice gently told me that I am not meant to carry the burden of the world on my shoulders and that all is as it should be. The message continued: there will come a day when I will know exactly what I need to do to improve the planet – in whatever form that may be. I have thought plenty about how to help the immigrants and their children, how to help the environment, how to advocate for people of color, how to help the poor, how to help people who are suffering mentally, how to be a light in a dark world.
Before this realization, I already knew that just focusing on “what’s wrong” would never get me anywhere. Or at least, anywhere that would bring me any kind of peace. In the next instant, I felt myself just let all this go. I made myself smile and get ready for my walk.I am not meant to carry all the burdens of the world. I am meant to live my life the best way I know how, making a difference as I can. Click To Tweet
Expressing gratitude on my walk
On my walk, I consciously tried not to label anything (that’s a mindfulness technique), I tried to walk mindfully and let myself feel gratitude for everything that was going right all around me.
The sun was shining brightly. I listened to the songs of so many birds that dwell in the lush green trees. A smile appeared on my face. In that moment I felt a tangible measure of peace.
I praised my dog as he walked without barking at other dogs or yanking me along. The scores of colorful gardens and flowers drew my lips into a smile. The house that I love to live in came to mind and I gave thanks for it.
Grateful for the little things…
A quick glance at my weary tennis shoes made me grin. They are worn out due to all the steps I have walked in the past year. I said thank you to my body that has propelled me through step after step, day after day.
I live in a safe neighborhood, with sidewalks I can traverse on, instead of having to be in the road. All my needs are met, and even some wants. “Thankful” is my word of choice here.
By the time I returned home, I felt so much better. Everything really is as it should be. If there is something that I need to fix, the desire and means for it to happen will be provided. I need to keep focusing on that which I want to see in my life.
It’s nice to know that I can still love and appreciate so many things, even in an imperfect world. Maybe a walk can solve the world’s problems.