Walk & Be Happy

23 May

A friend of mine recently came out of a very long relationship.

They had been together the better part of a decade, and she’s struggling.
“All the little things feel so hard…” she wrote to me this week. “I just can’t seem to get over this.”

It’s so hard to know what to say to someone in these situations. I just want her to feel better, but I don’t want to be flippant.
Telling someone in pain, “there, there, plenty more fish in the sea,” – it’s almost cruel.

I remember a time, several years ago now, when a long relationship I was in ended. It coincided with several other life upheavals and was compounded by reporting on some particularly traumatic events at work.

I remember my housemate at the time telling me that one day I would wake up and I would feel ok. I remember thinking, I would be carrying this anvil around in my chest forever. That the weight of it would prevent me from ever being able to love or taste food or feel anything ever again.

Walk Feet

“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.”
Charles Dickens

I started walking home from work, mainly because I couldn’t bear the thought of arriving home quickly to spend yet another evening occupying the couch with my tears.

I started taking detours: down back roads, through parks, circling the lake. My walks started getting longer. They became the kind of aimless wandering that allows your feet to take you in any direction while your mind climbs whichever hills it needs to.

I would rug up against the wind and put sad songs in my ears and trudge, despondently, until I found myself back home.

Somehow, it just got me out of my head. Sometimes, I found a song that I could hum along to. Sometimes it was a song that made me cry. Sometimes I would wrap my scarf high around my mouth and sob into it and the wind. I would grip my arms around myself, pretending it was the weather that made me feel so cold.

All the while, one foot in front of the other.

RoadWalkingQuoteUnknown

I discovered some amazing albums, during that time. Music I had loved and forgotten, new albums I thought would lift me out of my funk, sad songs I used to indulge my misery. Even now, when I buy a new album, I go walking  to hear it through for the first time. It’s my gift to myself, to my feet and my mind and my ears.

It was over a year later that I remembered what my housemate had told me and realised that she was right.
I did feel better.
Happier; more myself and more centered than I had ever been. The mended cracks had made me stronger than before.

I remembered laughing, almost in relief, at the memory of that sad girl, trudging the lake, tears staining her cheeks.

 Maybe sometimes, that’s what’s needed? To give yourself permission to feel sad or angry or whatever else is coming up?

To be with what’s there but know that this too shall pass.

“You are loved,” I wrote to my friend. “You will love again.”

In the meantime, maybe it’s time to go for a walk.

walking-away

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2 Responses to “Walk & Be Happy”

  1. Jo Flamer May 23, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Thank you

  2. Grace Hollier May 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    A beautiful and sensitive article.

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