There is a path.

IMG_0470I’ve always been drawn to paths. Paths tell me that I’m on a journey, and that there is a destination ahead, even if I can’t see it. Here on Wellfleet’s Audubon trail, a beautiful shoreline beckons, just beyond eyesight. I can believe that it’s there, yet I’ll never see it if I stay where I am. This photo reminds me, “There is a path. Look for it. Keep walking.” In his book On Trails, author Robert Moor writes, “Lost in the howling landscapes of life, most people will choose the confinement of a path to the dizzying freedom of an unmarked wilderness.” Truly, there is comfort in that, and security. Whether the path is long and boring or traverses switchbacks along a mountain or whether it unexpectedly splits and gives me options, it helps me to know that a path exists. Even if I have to search for signs, knowing there is a path helps me breathe and trust my own interior compass (or Google maps) to help find the way.

Right now the path I’m on leads to Portland, Maine on September 16, the end of a week-long 134-mile coastal walk that my husband and I are training for, called EverWalk New England. Diana Nyad, the long-distance swimmer who swam from Cuba to Key West at age 64, is the founder of the EverWalk movement. It’s designed to get Americans off the couch and moving in a healthy way. As soon as we read the article, we signed up, inspired and challenged by the quest. We are mostly sedentary non-athletes, so we ARE the target market. We have finished week 2 of training, and the miles are adding up. Sunday we did our 7 mile stretch along the coast in Newport, a spot so lovely you might forget how much your feet hurt. (We are learning that good ((expensive)) shoes and socks matter.) We had a path guiding us most of the 7 miles, though it was a virtual one and we did lose our way once and had to consult Google maps. What did we do before Google?

Walking doesn’t sound like much of a workout, but at the pace (16ish minute mile) and distances we are going, it feels like a substantial challenge. I’ve never walked 20 miles in a day. I’ve never walked 10. Can I do it? Will my feet hold up? Will plantar fasciitis rear its ugly head? We shall see. It’s an appealing challenge. I’ve wanted to walk the Santiago de Compostela ever since I learned of it in the sleeper film “The Way.” This training may enable us to some day do that. Or at least tell us if we are on the right path.

So how do we walk it? One step at a time, one breath at a time, mindful of the goal, yet in the present moment, noticing what’s around us, conscious of those with whom we share the journey. Sounds like a good way to live. I hope my life reflects what I’m learning. Want to come along?

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