It Really is All About the Journey
On March 31, 2016 at 7:30 a.m. I completed a year long journey. I set an intention on April 1, 2015 to walk each and every day for one year. I did not put any parameters on the daily walks as far as distance or time - just that I would walk each and every day outside. It has been an amazing journey.
I discovered something interesting during this last year. I discovered that, once the decision is made - I am going to walk each day - the hardest part is done. The one thing I can compare it to is a committed relationship. Once you decide to commit to a partner, each and every day isn't necessarily re-deciding to be in the relationship, it's about choosing how to be in the relationship that day. And, each day is different.
Sometimes, your relationship might be simply about not walking out and booking a one way ticket to a deserted island on that particular day - and some days are about being so actively and positively engaged with your partner that you could never imagine being on a deserted island (unless s/he was there with you).
Committing to walking each day was similar. Because I had already made the decision to walk each day, when I awakened in the morning it was simply about when and how, not whether or not. That one decision simplified things immensely. Whether I was walking at 4:30 in the morning due to a particularly busy day or 8:00 at night because of the same reason, the decision was already made to walk, so I did it. Whether it was raining, hailing, snowing, or the sun was blazing brightly, I walked, because the decision had already been made.
I truly did walk in sickness and in health and as death departed my dad from this earthly plane. In that way, this journey has been like a committed relationship also. While I did not make those specific vows, because I had made the decision, the vows were there.
Whether I wore a hat and sunglasses or 3 layers, snow boots, trax, gloves, a hood, and carried an umbrella, I walked - again because of the commitment. I walked different routes depending on how much time I had and what the weather was doing (and, in one case, how close I was to home during a stomach flu incident).
What I discovered is how much we attempt to control our environment - how conditional we make our lives. We will only do this activity if it fits into this time, on this day, and in this way. And, how unlike Nature that truly is. Nature changes every moment of every day and nothing in nature fights against those changes. It is part of life. And I felt part of Nature and part of Life in a different way than I ever have before by not fighting those changes and, most importantly, for not wishing away those changes, because those changes - and our adaptability to those changes - are what strengthen us.
I learned flexibility in my attitude as I walked no matter what the outside conditions. I learned not to procrastinate because as each day matured, I had less and less time to walk. I learned to be more adaptable because I could not change the weather, I could only change my clothes. I learned how often we put the responsibility outside of ourselves when our goals aren't met - and how that is never, actually, the truth.
I found beauty in the snow, and the rain, and the sleet, and the wind, and the sun. And, on those rare perfect-weather days, a breathtaking loveliness that I was simply out walking. I learned that my body was the most amazing thing about these daily walks. My body was infinitely adaptable, even if my mind and emotions weren't always. I learned kindness by being kind to my body - if I was low energy I walked slower or not as long. I learned that there are infinite shades of grey - that a decision doesn't have to be "either or", it can be "both and".
So, it doesn't matter whether or not we can make a particular style of class or go to a particular teacher, what matters is that we are on our mat and, while it might not be our choice overall, for that day it is o.k. As long as we meditate that day it doesn't matter if it is for one minute or for twenty minutes, what matters is that we are sitting still, we are breathing, we are in the moment. The conditions don't matter, the practice does.
We really, truly cannot control the environment, or other people, or the weather. All we have control over is our own reaction to those conditions. When I walked I only had control over what I wore, the route I took, and the time of day I walked. I had no control over someone calling in to work sick at the last moment and I had to teach. I only had control over how long I could walk that day. I had no control over others' understanding why I had to walk each day. I only had control over sticking to my intention. We have so much less control than we really think we do.
Sages tell us that the life is about the journey, not the destination. I've walked approximately 1200 miles this past year to arrive back at my own front door and know that statement is true. My walks weren't about getting to this moment. My walks were about seeing what I was made of and if I could keep a promise. My walks were about "walking my talk" about a personal daily practice. I've arrived at my destination one year after I began to know that I am stronger than I thought and that my life is truly graced. And, what I know to be true (a nod to Oprah), is that each one of you is stronger than you think and that your life is graced - if you give yourself the opportunity for your own conscious journey.