• Kay Andrews-Kuhn

With lively feelings may I walk

Something different today. I spotted some words in an unlikely place which gave me reason to reflect and prompted me to try and write down how I'm feeling.

"Happily I go forth. My interior feeling cool, may I walk. No longer sore, may I walk. Impervious to pain, may I walk. With lively feelings may I walk. As it used to be long ago, may I walk. Happily may I walk"

Extract from Prayer (from the Navajo healing ceremony called Night Chant)

“It is our habit to think outdoors - walking, leaping, climbing, dancing, preferably on lonely mountains or near the sea where even the trails become thoughtful.” Nietzsche

Last week I came across these words on the garden fence of a house perched on a Welsh hillside. We were following a circular trail which took us from the village of Llanberis around the shores of Llyn Padarn, high into the wooded hills on the far side, with spectacular views across the lake to Mount Snowdon at every break in the trees. As the trail left the woods and led towards the village, it passed this particular house and I paused to catch my breath and read the messages which had been carefully painted along the fence. Since then, the words have stuck with me, and I wanted to write something in response. Note: If you're here for the funny stuff- you might want to skip ahead.

It was a lovely day to be outside; dry and warm enough to savour the late summer sun on my face, just enough breeze to keep me comfortable as I struggled with the steep bits. It was wonderful to be outdoors and away from any crowds. We met just a handful of people during our three hour walk, and passed by at a respectful distance, exchanging encouragements such as: “it’s all downhill from here” and “watch out for the wild goats!”

I know I’m not alone in feeling that walking has saved my sanity this year: The precious daily escape during the weeks of lockdown where the end of the lane was an invisible barrier between me and the world outside. Marking the weeks with selfies, gradually removing layers of coats and jumpers as the hedgerows and trees put on their summer finery. Greeting the sheep and watching the baby lambs grow. They tactfully looked the other way if I had a little cry. Cheaper than therapy, and I always came home feeling a little better.

Six months of WFH has brought challenges, but I'm feeling the loss of my social and creative outlet the most. Amateur theatre ceased abruptly in March and we are missing the fun of rehearsals and live performance. There may have been more time to think this summer, but anxiety and worry clouded my thoughts and caused a block for several months. Simply walking, let alone “leaping, climbing, dancing” enabled me to think more positively, to want to get back to writing, to want to read, to make plans, to look after myself. It was also necessary to burn off all the home made sourdough that we comfort-ate every week.

Sigh no more, ladies. Enough self-pity! I wasn't always alone - I had lots of lovely walks with my husband, then with family and friends as restrictions eased. My goal is to explore close to home and further afield, seeking out rivers, canals, beaches, country lanes and footpaths, parks, woods, anywhere where it’s peaceful, pretty and reasonably people-free. My boots are nicely worn in, I have a sturdy stick, happily may I walk. I wish the same to you- and remember: watch out for the goats!