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Today's walkitcornwall quote

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself". - Leo Tolstoy

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Of course Paul’s deep knowledge of the region, its flora and its beauties – and not to forget his patience and his humor – have made me feel like it all was too short.  As a result, my eyes and my brain are full of new images and new knowledge.

– Jean-Claude B, Switzerland.

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My personal philosophy of walking

The destination or the journey?

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The saying that crops up a lot "it's the journey not the destination" is the walkers equivalent of "size doesn't matter".

In this day and age I am amazed at how often this comes up, and we all have done this. It is said, "well, I've got a couple of hours I can do 4 miles inbetween the school run and lunch", as though this is another chore to get one through the day, ticked off, good for the health and feeding the mind and body in "balance" where nature and the "real world" meet as opposites. I just did this myself - right I've got two hours before it gets dark and I need to walk. For me a lack of walking is a physical withdrawal sympton that manifests itself like a smoker craves nicotine and the body rebels.

I am also amazed that people pay me to take them walking. I'm very happy to aswell. Yet, it makes me think, well, why do we walk and how do we walk and those, my friends, are two separate books and a forthcoming PhD. For me how you engage with ones surroundings is more important than the mileage you aim to do. So here's a thought. Make a plan of a route and see how far you get if you do the following.

Walking into a wood what do you see? Take a look at the individual trees, look at the water courses, listen to those trees and the way water courses through the wood. In a wind some trees are making cracking sounds. Go to the tree and put your ear to the trunk and listen. You will be astounded at the reverberation it makes. Check the changing light and colours, listen to the bird sounds, check what the ground cover is as there may be a lot or nothing depending on the tree above. Listen for the scampering sounds of animals and the scratching and buzzing of insects. Above all enjoy the silence and the feel of time which elongates out. A minute in a wood lasts surprisingly long. Time it.

I did all the above and covered 25 metres. I walked for 20 minutes. We can debate about whether you call that walking.

The wood was my guide. not my cerebral voice and inner motivator saying "4 miles before darkness". Nature is where I ponder the bigger questions of life. Outside, in nature, that is my church, synagogue and mosque. In those places we also have the journey and destination dilemma. There are services, texts to get through, in precise logical order that has a start and finish. It is ritual, familiarity, group therapy and community. We have then done our duty, made the effort and won the prize of inner and outer peace in the presence of ones God. As I said mine is, in the case of good' ol Earth 4.6 billion years old, so mine's older than yours - see, the size doesn't matter argument in a holy guise. My journey and commune with the big picture has similarities in it has personal reflection and a search for connection and yet it is multi sensory, ever changing, fluid and of indeterminant length.

My original plan once immersed in the wood took me to the sea and I was lucky enough to witness something that has been prepared for more than 4.6 billion years and was special for today only. I was lucky to witness this celestial show of a sunset and its part of the surroundsound of nature. I felt it was just for me, but folks we can all share it if we make time. In a walk you can choose what to take in, what to miss, be overwhelmed by, in shape, colour, sound, smell and taste in the ever changing scenery. The parts of the whole are there to be dissected and put back together, interconnected, reconnected and honed in on and it does take time to open up in regards to what to look for and how to observe.

I keep learning that to get the most out of a walk does not entail infinite and precise planning a beginning and end with a climax but a walk will happen with everything that is on offer if you know how to look for it. So as long as you get out of it all that is offered and know how to enjoy the bliss then it can be as long as you want it to be. Yet again size doesn't matter.

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