On one of my daily walks, I decided to walk my land, so I invited my younger cat to join me. And she did! Now, walking takes on a totally different meaning when you are with a cat who’s watching her back constantly.
When she decided she’d had enough I ambled home with her and then continued my walk, stepping out at a pace to get my heart rate up. Walking comes in different styles and flavors, ranging from a stroll to a march to a run. I generally take the marching approach to my walking.
Hhmmm…Marching. Rushing. Present? Cardio. Peaceful? There are lots of reasons to walk. Being as I tend to walk solo I’m fine with the marching and cardio aspect of my walks. I stay present enough to spot the scarlet tanagers that migrate through, smell the bucks as they hide in the woods, and appreciate the play of sun and shadow on the mountains.
There’s a catch to rushing on your walk. Yes, you reach your goal sooner and get a better workout, but you miss the spiritual aspect of the area you are rushing through. How slow is slow enough? How fast is too fast?
Friends of mine walked the last 100km of the Camino de Santiago with the intention of walking at a “pilgrim’s pace”. It was only when I was preparing for my Camino did I analyze that pace. They walked 10km/day, considering that a pilgrim’s pace. The average time it takes to walk the entire 800km Camino is 32 days, which means the average distance each day is 25km. That’s about how far I walked on average each day and felt I wasn’t rushing through the Camino.
I walked slowly enough to hear the bullfrogs and cuckoo birds, to talk to the dogs and cows, and to appreciate the sunrises. We stopped for coffee with other pilgrims, we explored the villages we walked through, and we soaked up the beauty of the churches and cathedrals we encountered. It felt like a good pace. I guess I wouldn’t have made a good pilgrim in the old days.
In reading a woman’s story of her Kumano Kodo, the Japanese version of the Camino, she talked about rushing through that experience, taking the 4-5 day pilgrimage in 3 days. She even used the word rushing. She was out of time for her trip and wanted to check that pilgrimage off her list of accomplishments. I wonder what she missed. But, “It’s your Camino.”, as they say on the Camino de Santiago. Maybe that’s the whole point about life: take it as you want, not as others think it should be lived.
So, back to the stroll with the cat. Another interesting observation was that after our stroll is that my cat wasn’t nearly as needy and clingy as she has been this winter. We bonded in ways that meditating and reading together don’t accomplish. I pondered that. I spend a lot of time with friends over dinner or tea, attending plays and movies, and even attending meetings together, just as I spend time with my cat in various ways.
I extrapolated that lesson to my life and realized that the friends I am active with I have deeper bonds with. After sharing this realization on Facebook, my husband turned to me and asked if that’s why I liked him to take walks with me. Yes, that’s a big part of it, though I hadn’t put those words to it before.
Time with friends in any fashion is valuable and important. I remember my mother telling me that when she was first married, one of her favorite things to do with Dad was curl up in the living room reading quietly. I’ve carried that memory with me and even adopted it into my relationships. Randy and I have loved taking turns reading to each other at night. These small actions do bond relationships.
Time and again though, I have found that walking together is the most bonding of all. It’s an activity you do together. You also bond with yourself when you take a nice long walk.