“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” -Mary Davis, author and spiritualist.
Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about my creative process. It can take a lot of energy to write an article every Monday-Friday for this blog: ideas must be formulated. Drafts written then proofread. Then entirely deleted because I didn’t manage to capture the message or convey my voice well. Then rewritten again. Somedays, I am filled with inspiration and manage to write several articles ahead of time. Others, I am writing down to the wire to hit that 5 pm deadline, much to the annoyance of the site’s graphic designer (although she would never say so as she’s too nice). But before I can even think about sitting down at my computer to start writing, I always have to take a walk outside.
It doesn’t have to be a long one; usually just once around the block is enough to do it. And while I’m out and about, breathing fresh air and appreciating nature, that’s when the ideas come. Article topics, scenes for my novel, and thoughts and theories about books and games I enjoy. By the time I make it home, my phone is filled with an additional 10 or 15 notes. Right now, it holds over 200 of them, varying in length from a single sentence to essays of sorts. There’s something to be said about the outdoors and the nature of walking: something so simple, so basic that we learn to do it in infancy, can still bring joy and inspiration all these years later.
Maybe it has something to do with the memories. My youth was filled with adventures of walking with friends to the Walgreens every other day: even now, there’s something about Redvines and Arizona Iced Tea that takes me back. Or maybe it’s when I got my first job at the Target. When the weather was nice enough, I would forgo the car and walk to work instead, taking courage with each step in order to brave the customer service desk. Or the walks with my dog, where we could make it nearly 6 miles before he’d get tired and I’d have to carry him home.
In short, it gets you thinking. There are a lot of things I take for granted day to day: my friendships, access to good food and clean water, and my soft and comfortable bed. But when I’m out walking, I find myself a little more thankful for the basic things in life. The air around us is clean and relatively unpolluted. Each of the houses I pass are well maintained and personalized, where each lawn ornament and flower pot tells you a bit of the story about the family living inside. And my legs, albeit thin, are strong and functional; they’ve made it this far, carrying my weight as I’ve walked to see a thousand wonders of the world. They’ve taken me through the streets of London, up the steps of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and to the town where my grandparents were born and raised. For countless parties, adventures, and journeys, they’ve done their job without complaint.
And that’s something to be thankful for. It’s easy to lose track of the little things, which are really big, that make our lives into wonderful things worth living. I hope that, as the weather begins to change, you manage to get outside as much as possible before the Chicago cold comes to drive us indoors. Together with my other senses, my legs have helped exposed me to all the beautiful things life has had to offer. And, God willing, they’ll stick around long enough for some of the other moments I might need them for, like standing at the altar to marry the man I love. As I’m single with no prospects on the near horizon, that journey is far ahead of me. But from a lifetime of walking, I know my legs are strong enough to get me there. After all, it is just one step at a time.