Hi. Margie from Toronto gave me the idea for this post, she asks the following questions.....
Do you walk mainly for exercise - or to see the sites - or to have time to yourself - or is it a combination?
All of those Margie, plus a few others. I can't put them in any particular order because they are all equally important. Let's start at the top, I believe it is very important to do some sort of exercise, anything that gets you moving, even those with limited mobility should do something. My hips and knees are holding out for me, and the easiest thing is to put one foot in front of the other, walk until I've had enough and stop.
Enjoying my surroundings is important, seeing new places, learn about how the countryside works, meeting new people and asking questions. I love to find out how other people live their lives. On a long walk I have to limit my chatting because I also want to get on and do the miles. That's where the challenge of exercise comes in. I have to strike a balance. I get a buzz from pushing myself to do more, and feel a great sense of satisfaction that I have covered a lot of ground. Also carrying a big rucksack makes it a bit awkward to be a tourist in a town centre. I have a quick look round while I am there, take a few snaps, that's a nice building etc, but don't expect any in depth historical facts about the place. I would rather linger a bit longer in a quiet and beautiful country setting, than dodge the traffic and shoppers in a concrete jungle.
I already have a lot of time to myself in my daily life, but I am not completely free as I have the responsibility of looking after animals. I am lucky that I have a very good friend who cat sits for me so I am able to get away. If I couldn't leave my local area I would go bonkers, I need to travel. If I haven't been anywhere for a while I feel trapped and start crawling up the walls. I have to pack a bag and go. I am a free spirit and not used to being stuck in one place. As far back as I can remember I have always had this sense of freedom, that I can go anywhere I like. It started when I left home at 18, I moved around wherever the fancy took me. I suppose I am sort of settled where I am now, because I am at an age where I can make the best life for myself wherever I am, but I still have to go walkabout.
I am well used to spending hours on my own. Driving 300 miles in a truck every day, I have learnt to find enough mental stimulation within my own head. My mind can wander anywhere I want it to, and I can draw on the memories of my past experiences to take me somewhere else. Some people might call that daydreaming, I call it living with my thoughts within my head. I am at peace with myself.
I am a great believer of a healthy body is a healthy mind, the two are connected. So my need for exercise is important to me because it makes me happy. I've been reading an article about an experiment where people waiting for chemo for their cancer treatment were put on a programme of exercise for several weeks until they were called into hospital. Rather than let them wallow in self pity at home while they waited, they had to sign up and commit themselves to workout three times a week. In all cases they recovered more quickly after the chemo, than those who didn't exercise.
When I set off it's like I have cast off the shackles of life. Everything I do for the duration of the walk is up to me, I am in control, I make all the decisions. I walk fast, or slow, or stop, or sit down. I don't have to be anywhere at any particular time. I try and plan where I will be spending the night, but it is always a hit and miss affair. It's the sense of freedom it gives me which ultimately gives me an incredible sense of well being. There are one or two anxious moments, like oh bugger I've missed a turn, but hey, we miss plenty of turns in our lives. We either go back and find the right way, or forge ahead and find a new way. That is life.
There are doubts as to whether I will find a bed every night, but something always turns up. Like the taxi driver who picked me up near Buxton and gave me a bed at his house because all the B & B's were too expensive for me. Or the time I found a pub at 7.30pm but there was no beds left. I carried on walking and found a place at 9pm. Or the time I left Selby in the morning and arrived at the Humber Bridge at 9pm after walking 30 miles in 13 hours. When you think you can't do any more, you can always find a bit in reserve, you've just got to push yourself that bit harder.
Thank you for the questions Margie, I hope I have answered them well enough for you.
Bye for now, Toodle pip.
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