Friday, November 29, 2013

Walking slowly

I love watching sports on TV. Athletes who run quickly through on skis or on skates. I like to see them compete on the sports field where they set speed records when they run. They makes great achievements. Think of running 100 meters under 10 seconds! I've never even been close to being that fast. It's not for me to move so quickly. What I 'm really good at to is to walk slowly.

Walking slowly is an art. Not rush but to spend the time I need while walking. Actually, there is no such thing as little time or lots of time. You have the time you have. Time is neither short nor long, neither fast or slow. We experience time individually. Most of us often say that we are in a hurry. It's perceived as a rejection to meet a someone who says "I have little time." But to meet someone who says "I have lots of time" seems inclusive. I like to have lots of time.

A few years ago I walked 800 km through Spain. I walked a pilgrimage from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I had planned the trip for a whole year. Working out a plan was important for me. My plan let meg imagine where I was going to walk. I could calculate how long I would need from place to place. How I could spend my nights. As I walked the pilgrimage I was so well prepared that I no longer needed my plan. I could just walk and be present in the Moment while walking. The plan was a part of me, but I did not follow it anymore. I could and had to improvise along the way.

It was most important during the trek was to find my own pace. I met many while walking who had planned to walk the same distance as quickly as possible. I met one from Sweden, a physical education teacher from a secondary school that had set a goal to clear a total of 800 kilometers in just 20 days, 40 kilometers every day. When I said I had a lots of time and that I had put off 35 days for the trip, he shook his head and ran on. He didn't even have time to say Buen Camino to me. The first days of the trek, I walked too fast over the Pyrenees. I got blisters and I felt an incipient inflammation of the ankles. I had to lower my speed. After a few days I found my own pace. The pace one chooses is a topic of conversation we piligrims often had when we meet. It was wonderful to be wandering in life where one could walk at ones own pace. Most pilgrims walk slowly. A few tried to set speed records, but most used the time most time a possible and walked slowly.

Walking slowly gives me a chance to think thoughts that I need to ponder on. My mind has a slower pace when I walk slowly. Walking slowly makes it easier to grasp and comprehend my thoughts. In a busy day at work, thoughts fly quickly setting new speed records all the time. When my mind walks faster than the rest of my body, then I'm no longer in harmony with myself. That's way it's good for me to walk slowly. I walk at my own pace, I let my feet determine the pace. I move my attention from my much to busy brain to my feet. It creates a peace of mind. I try to feel that I am walking. Step by step. You can't take two steps at a time. One can only take one step at a time. If you try to take two steps at a time, you fall. I have tried many times to take 2-3 steps at a time, but it doesn't work. I can take short steps and long steps, but several steps simultaneously doesn't work. To be present in every step is an art. It's an art for me to walk slowly and really feel that I'm on the road in my own pace. Finding one's own pace in life, feels good. I can recommended it to others. Often we feel that we must move in a pace determined by others. In working life, family life, leisure time and among friends. It can become a problem that we all walk at different paces.

Finding your own pace and keeping, can sometimes lead to problems such as breaking up an not walking together. We often fear breaching up, but sometimes it can be necessary. Breaking up can be painful, but also liberating. I often experienced during pilgrimage that couples and families I met along the road disagreed and argued about the pace at which they should move in together. Several times it led to tragic breakups between them. A young daughter left her parents, a son ran away from his father, a husband and wife broke up in disappointment, a small child sat down to look at a flower while parents scolded him and said that he had to hurry on. If you walk along with others, use time to talk about how fast you wish to walk and respect that everyone can walk at their own pace. Have respect for the fact that everyone walks at different paces. Agree to have meeting points along the road but move at your own pace. Doing so, breaking up can be fell as liberating. It need not be perceived as a tragic and painful failure, but as a recognition that we are moving at different paces.

My experience though is that it is best if we are able to walk together, -slowly. Let the one in the group who is slowest set the pace. The one who walks most slowly have the most to teach others in the group and understands the most of the art of walking slowly. It may mean that you will not reach the goal you have set for the walk. But remember that it is not important to arrive all the time. On a pilgrimage we say to each other that the road we are walking on in life is a the road of Love and that Love is a goal in itself. To arrive at Santiago de Compostela during my pilgrimage in Spain, was a disappointment for me. When I think back on my pilgrimage in Spain, I think of walking slowly on the road and not that I achieved reaching a final goal. I think of all the people I met and the amazing scenery. When I walk slowly, I find myself being present in the Moment on my road in life. The road is really the goal.
The road is the goal. Photo: Kaare T. Pettersen
Kaare T. Pettersen

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