The Love of a Long Walk

By Leo Babauta

Yesterday afternoon, I set off on a long walk.

I’d been having an off day, tired from lots of activities and unmotivated and my mind fixated on one thing … so I decided to walk.

I put some snacks, a book, and some water in a backpack, put on some running shorts, a long-sleeve running shirt, some good shoes and a hat. The weather was hot but not at peak intensity, at 5 p.m.

The start was really nice – it felt so good to be moving, to be outdoors, that I couldn’t help but feel liberated from the funk I’d been in. I passed other walkers, cyclists, kids playing in playgrounds, and loved seeing fellow human beings enjoying being outside.

I walked for about an hour before taking a snack and water break, and reading my book. By then, my left foot had developed a hot spot in the forefoot, but I ignored it, probably foolishly. The sun was going down a bit and the shadows were lengthening, but it was still warm.

After a break, I headed out again. My mind was calmed from all the walking, and my legs were getting a little tired, but not too bad.

After a couple hours, I started to feel some discomfort – I hadn’t walked like this in awhile, and my mind started to push back against my body’s discomfort. It was good for me to feel uncomfortable, though, so I just kept walking. Let my mind complain. It can handle it.

The sun became a bright pink, a dazzling neon red that reminded me of the 80s for some reason. It was breath-taking, and I stopped for a photo, though my phone’s camera couldn’t capture the beauty. Oh well, I’d just have to enjoy it without documentary evidence or the ability to share it with others.

I stopped for another break in a small batch of redwoods, and read. I had a few cookies, well-earned.

I kept walking, marveling at the purple and orange sky, and the ridiculously pink sun. No one else around seemed wowed by this sun, but I felt awe and joy.

My legs were tired now, but I was still about four miles from home, so I kept walking.

The light faded to twilight, then night, and I was walking in the dark. It was quiet, and I was alone, and I wanted company but couldn’t have any.

I finished the walk, 12 miles and about four hours later (including reading and snack breaks), and had a well-deserved beer. And slept as well as I’ve slept in a month.

A good walk can clear your head, push you into discomfort, and help you appreciate the majesty of life in a way that you rarely do while at home. I can’t wait to go on another today.