Why I Find Gratitude in WalkingPosted on Jun 3rd 2011 10:00AM by That's Fit Editors
Before every class we step into our practice for the day and after every class we step out into our day. I never really gave much thought to walking before that. I just did it. I just do it. But those daily steps, barefoot, on a cool, wooden floor before and after dancing Nia, have caused me to think more about putting one foot in front of the other.
Like most people, I walk to get from Point A to Point B. I take for granted that when my brain tells my feet to get walking, my feet listen without pause. My mother isn't so lucky. Muscular Dystrophy has left her steps labored and almost impossible without braces on her feet and legs.
I think about that now when I walk and I am grateful for the steps I can take.
In many developing nations, people -- women mostly -- walk an average of three miles a day
to get water. The water can weigh more than 40 pounds and is often not even safe for consumption (though consumed it is). The walk can be dangerous and the chronic back pain inevitable. But there is no choice but to walk.
I think about that now when I walk and I am grateful for the steps I opt to take.
One summer I walked the pilgrimage road in France, the road to Saint Jacques de Compostelle. I walked in privilege, traveling a few miles a day through the Languedoc- Roussillon region*. Fields dotted with grazing livestock, a rushing waterfall, castles and churches and charming towns flanked my path. I tasted wines, stayed in castles and enjoyed fantastic food.
When I walked, I felt the history beneath my feet. I felt the footsteps of the pilgrims who had walked before me. But it wasn't until later that I began to think of what an honor it was to share that path and to do it not only without suffering, but also in great comfort. I remember finding some of the terrain difficult then. But now I think about just how easy I had it -- how easy I have it.
I think about that now when I walk and I am grateful for the steps I get to take.
For the second year in a row I walked in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day. 60 miles in three days. My mother is a survivor. I raised $2,300 and walked twenty miles a day in honor of her kicking cancer to the curb. And I walked for all of the women and men who survived breast cancer, who are battling breast cancer and who lost their lives to breast cancer.
When you walk 20 miles a day for three days, you definitely think about the walking. A lot. After suffering feet covered in blisters last year that had to be lanced and bandaged every few miles, I got wise this year and tied on a pair of Scarpa shoes designed for rock climbers to get to their rock. I figured shoes designed to handle that could certainly handle this. I managed to finish the walk blister-free. But I gave thought to every step. Do I feel any hot spots? Do I need to apply more Glide? Is there any rubbing going on in my shoes?
What I didn't think about until recently however was the freedom of choice that my walk
celebrated. I chose to walk. I chose to take time from my life to walk. I chose to raise funds for a cause that means a great deal to me by walking. I chose the people with whom I would walk. And I chose to walk every mile.
I think about that now when I walk and I am grateful for the steps I choose to take.
Walking where and when I want is a privilege. I always thought of it as a right. There are so many things I take for granted in my little universe. But as I begin to honor each time my foot touches the earth and the earth touches my foot, I begin to take it for granted just a little less.
I am mindful now of those steps that I can, I get, I opt, I choose to take. I don't complain about a parking space in the back of the lot or a forgotten pair of sunglasses that I must retrace my steps to gather. I think instead about how lucky I am to do something so simple and that so many of us take for granted.
*The segments of the pilgrimage road in France that I walked included Saint Alban sur Limagnole, Aumont-Aubrac, Nasbinals, Pont du Diable (the Devil's Bridge), Saint Guilhem heights, and Camin Roumieu in Montpelier.
A former college English instructor, Jenny Block is a freelance writer for numerous print and online publications and the author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage. She is also the bi-monthly sex columnist for FoxNews.com. Read her blog on Red Room.