Most mornings after breakfast, I take a walk on the land surrounding my home on the coastal fringes of the northern Highlands. Usually alone, I find it an opportunity for contemplation, breathing fresh air and for appreciation of the scenery. When I am working on a novel, undistracted by everyday activities and trivialities, ideas can more easily bubble to the surface of my mind (no, not like farts in a bathtub).
Nevertheless, I am not blind to my surroundings. Walking more or less the same route each day, the familiar does not become mundane. The variation in weather doesn’t always conform to the cycle of the seasons. My observational skills become honed. I notice subtle changes in vegetation. I can appreciate the contrast between a dry seed head and the green grass, silhouettes of trees against the sky, activities in the bird world, ever changing cloudscapes…no two days are the same.
On rare occasions, I am treated to more thrilling sights: a stunning sunrise; the delight of three fox cubs at play; otters fishing in the estuary; a red kite, or even an osprey, flying overhead. At such times, excitement fills my heart and drives all other thoughts from my mind. Experiences like these feed my soul and lighten my spirit.
Walking is my meditation and my medicine. It enriches my life and, whilst it cannot make problems disappear, it can lessen the burden and sometimes allow solutions to emerge. In an age when we can become bombarded by stimuli, overloaded with information, tempted by frivolous distractions and overwhelmed by reasons to be fearful, I find this quiet, peaceful time reminds me that I have a choice about how I respond, how much I allow into my life, and how I let it affect me.