We constantly tout the value of community here at EverWalk. On our Ambassador-led First Saturdays, on our FB Group Page, on our EPICS through the great outdoor corridors of America, in our media statements, we speak of relishing the community of walkers we are sharing and always looking to develop further.
There’s the freedom of thinking that comes with striding down the road, many of us opening up to each other, to subjects and personal revelations that just wouldn’t come within the confines of a conference room or even among friends at a fun dinner.
There’s the power of shared discoveries. Walking together, we notice nature and architecture and the history of a place and our conversations widen because we’re in it together.
There’s the encouragement from another on a tough day. Your heel is blistered, your stomach is upset, your knees are aching but you’re only half way through your designated goal. A walking partner or your whole group lifts you. They help solve the immediate problem. They buoy your spirits. And you finish.
And next time you’ll be the one to help someone else through.
There’s the bonding with like-minded souls. And there’s the widening of the mind to walk with people of vastly different backgrounds and philosophies from yours. The phrase Everybody Has a Story plays out as we stroll down the lane together.
And yet with all that said about walking together, there is profound value in setting out on our own.
More than swimming or running or cycling or any other endurance exercise I’ve done over the course of my life, I find walking the ideal movement for setting my mind free.
A joy washes over me as I lace up my sneakers, slap on my sunblock, get my cynch bag stocked with lip balm, etc, prep my water bottle, cozy under my EverWalk bucket hat, and head out the door.
The cadence of my soles touching the pavement, pitter/patter, the utter freedom of perhaps not even having a plan, lifts my imagination into overdrive. I might look at my GPS tracker or my watch and, surprise, I’ve been walking for ten miles and never thought to check because my mind was wandering in such a state of delight.
Without talking to another, I find myself gazing upwards and wondering if the perpetual expansion of the universe will eventually widen out to such a point that from earth no other celestial body will be visible.
A person I have shut out of my life, and hasn’t even crossed my mind for years, virtually appears before me and I soften to remember the good things, the good times. I find a level of compassion that has eluded me before and decide to make a call, to make amends.
There are stories throughout history of artists and writers and thinkers who walked daily, who walked long distances, not really for health or for athletic purposes, but to let their creative minds brew and bubble. Virginia Woolf would take to the streets of London all day long, stopping for a visit with her sister, her pen and notebook in hand, rather than sit still at home, hoping for a muse to spark ideas.
When I’m writing or working on a long-term project, I walk to get my head organized. I find myself occasionally almost running to the computer when I arrive home. The chapter that was stumping me has become clear during my long walk.
So, yes, we are a community, we EverWalkers. But we shine a spotlight also on the noble act of walking alone. Perhaps we can borrow from Virgina Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and occasionally recommend A Walk of One’s Own.
About Diana Nyad:
A prominent sports journalist, filing for National Public Radio, ABC’s Wide World of Sports, The New York Times and others, Diana has carved her place as one of our compelling storytellers and sought-after public speakers. .