I can’t complain too much about being “stuck” on the upper gulf coast of Texas. This is the time of year that Mother Nature mostly blesses this habitat with her perfect outdoor air conditioning. And after a summer of heat and humidity, I’m now spending my days outdoors, as much as stick-house living allows.Yesterday afternoon included a long walk. Outdoor walking is one of the most important habits of my life. I know that I can go to a gym and get on an elliptical or a stair-stepper or a treadmill and burn more calories than an hour walk outdoors. But the gym, or any indoor venue, does not bring me the mental, emotional and spiritual therapy of a long walk outdoors.
I didn’t discover the healing powers of outdoor walking until nine years ago. A life-event medical emergency almost took my life. It definitely took away my health as a long recovery period was involved. But my recovery did declare victory over a near-death experience. There is no question in my mind that my recovery was in large part due to friends who got me outside, got me on my feet, and slowly walking. My first walk was not 25 yards.But with each outdoor walk I found a strengthening and a calming of my selfhood. And with a great deal of daily walks, each one a little further than the last, an hour walk became the magic length that separated me from a turning inward, to focus on my own selfish problems and challenges, to a turning outward, to the overwhelmingly larger-than-a-single-life landscape of Mother Nature. I walked in rain and heat and cold. Walking was my life preserver. A walking stick my faithful companion.
And now, whether a multi-hour hike at my beloved Lost Maples State Natural Area, or a one-hour leisurely stroll on a neighborhood greenbelt, an outdoor walk is my own personal tribute to: an hour a day keeps the doctor away.How can I describe this visually? Well, when I started my walk yesterday, I walked past a large grouping of penta flowers. They looked something like this:
And after an hour walk, I returned past the same pentas and they looked more like this:
I truly believe life-treasures will come into focus, as yesterday did these tiny Heavenly Bamboo berries share their beauty with me: