Walking Alone (revised)
So here I am walking through the bush in Australia by myself. I’ve been walking for about an hour, maybe two, and I am blown away by just how fascinating this place is.
I am hiking through the Lamington national park just near the southern border of Queensland, Australia. The hike I am on is called Shipstone Circuit, a 21-kilometer circuit walk. I would say other than the length it’s a moderate walk but a beautiful one.
Breathtaking views, transcending falls and scenery that forever changes. Areas of dry, rugged bush and scrub, to the whispering voices of wise old red cedar gums. From forests of invasive Picabeen palms alluring bird life to the luminous mystery of wet sub-tropical rainforest. I am no ecologist, but it indeed is a diverse journey through this quite part of the world.
Walking is a new theme of mine. One that I have put on my list of to-dos to welcome some positive change in my life. The vision is health. The goal is to get active. Hiking is one attempt to accomplish this. An image was tacked to my vision board six months ago, and while it’s been a slow start here, I am, walking alone.
Here is my thought. If I can incorporate some healthy habits, like hiking that require some level of fitness, I may just be able to drown out practices that are doing me no favors in life. I understand that you cannot destroy old habits but only subside them by the adoption of new behaviors.
I also had the vision to improve my lifestyle, to bring a bit of balance to the work-life equation. By getting outdoors and enjoying what nature has to give I believe will provide many benefits beyond the noticeable effects it will have on health.
Hiking alone may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the silence and the Self-time. It allows you to connect within and with nature. I guess that might sound a little hippie to some people, but it is genuinely awakening.
The reflection helps improve clarity leaving you refreshed and energized. It assists with resilience and mental agility as there is a level of challenge and uncomfortableness in time alone. Heightened by time spent in unfamiliar environments.
Personally, I find it amusing how easily I can spook myself. For example, when I hear a strange noise and either jump or momentarily freeze. My heartbeat raises slightly, and hands become a little sweety. Natural fear at work?
It’s nice when you finally take action on something you’ve been thinking about doing. When there has been a delay, I often wonder why. I had this realization on this hike. There is a higher purpose in doing this than just the health benefits alone.
Why did it take me so long to start? Well, there are several reasons for this. I wrote about these in a post on procrastination that you can read here. It all boils down to balance. A balance of our desires for immediate satisfaction over delayed satisfaction. A balance of pleasures and pain.
In the six months leading up to this hike, I spent the majority of my time in procrastination. Trying to find reasons not to go rather than using the same energy on finding a definite reason to go. A focus on the negative is rarely conducive to taking action.
Mostly I give myself the excuse of not having enough time. Followed closely by these reasons, “I’m tired. It’s too far. I’m busy. It’d be nice to relax for the day.” Do you understand where I’m coming from?
I opt for the smooth, familiar paths. But it’s a trap. I know the outcomes. Stick with the roads of least resistance and receive no growth. What I end up doing with my time takes me no nearer the ideal lifestyle I dream of creating.
Time is a valuable resource but to waste it on behaviors that are toxic to our body and mind, or activities that lead nowhere is a little irrational. It might be rational in the sense that that is our biological design but it, in my opinion, is not logical at all as it relates to improving the quality of our life.
The truth is all those reasons I gave myself delayed my progress. It may be difficult to see all the associated benefits of going for a hike at first, but they exist. Certainly more than the benefits that might come from sitting around all weekend watching TV, mowing lawns or drinking beers.
Fear blocked me. Comfort kept me conforming to the lifestyle I had become used to, and yet it was a lifestyle I wanted to change and improve. Life is too short.
We need to focus on the essential things in life. Relationships. Health. Contribution. Things that expand our mind, raise our health, get us closer to nature and people we love. It’s about challenging ourselves. Finding the new and exciting ways to push the boundaries of familiarity. It’s about progress.
There is delayed gratification in all this and while I still have a big journey to travel and much more I want to see, do and feel, I have noticed a significant increase in the level of my freedom, fulfillment, and happiness in life.
If we wish to change existing patterns or behavior, it is essential to adopt new ones. The reason why we don’t stick to new habits is that it is too easy to submit back to old ones. We do this because we don’t enjoy the new behaviors, or at least we think we don’t or that the reward of the practice is unnoticed.
I think some things do take time to notice any gain, but quite often it’s a matter of mindset and being aware. Thinking about what we are giving up or missing out. We think about the negative not the positive of the new activity or opposingly the positive of the old behavior rather than the negative.
As I continue my hike, I am at peace, content, happy, surrounded by nature and there is no one around me. Isolated for miles and walking alone! I can listen to all the sounds internally and externally. The lessons that remind me of what is truly important in my life.
Silence brings with it a higher level of peace and contentment.
And when we are internally satisfied we are better able to serve the world more purposefully. We are better able to contribute to ourselves with greater intent.
The more significant our clarity, awareness, and attention to what is essential in life the better our chances of achieving the success we so desire. You define success.
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
Time alone is a perfect use of time. Combined with new environments or amongst nature and the benefits only strengthen. Some of my best moments of progress came from solo travel around the globe and adventures into isolation. Relationships and human interaction are also important, but often the most powerful way to connect within is to disconnect from everything else.
Time alone is not a selfish pursuit, although it may make you feel like this way. Whatever allows me to grow and mature will help all those around me, all those I love.
When we take the time to search within, we connect more truly with everything else around us. All life flourishes within dependant relationships. However, to establish this, we must be free from conformity, autonomous in thought and behavior and guided internally, and then will we be able to see all the interconnectivity of all relationships that give our life meaning.