I changed my walking routine today. Instead of walking around the 2.7 mile loop in front of my house as I have done regularly for the past 11 years, I decided to walk up a steep hill through the forested property owned by the local paper mill. I’ve walked this trail only a handful of times, always with my husband, and the last time was about three years ago. I don’t like walking up hill — it’s too strenuous. I’m from Florida, so I prefer long, flat sandy beaches. I live only a few miles from Mount Monadnock, one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the WORLD, and I’ve never climbed it. Okay, I tried to climb it years ago with my pesky practice husband (we drove up from Boston) and we didn’t make it to the top. Talk about metaphor.
In truth, my walking routine changed months ago. My beloved 16 1/2-year-old Jack Russell Andy is no longer able to walk more than 1/2 mile, and our daily walks around that familiar loop are no more, which breaks my heart. Things change whether we want them to or not.
But there are other areas in my life where change would be welcomed, so I thought I’d kick start the process by initiating simple changes where I could. Thank you Serenity Prayer. I stood at the literal crossroads, deciding whether to go left with the known and easy, or right with the less known and more difficult. I couldn’t remember how steep the hill was, how long the trail was, or where the turn offs were. What if I got lost? If something happened, e.g., I tripped and fell, no one would know to look for me there. Then I realized how silly this thinking was — this was a HILL about 1/2 mile from my house, not an isolated peak on the Appalachian Trail. I started walking.
It wasn’t hard at all. I panted a little. I also heard a wood thrush singing, a loon calling overhead, and a moose stomping through the forest. Not a bad way to start the day.
As is usually the case, I underestimated what I am capable of and almost let my imagined dangers derail me. But change can do that to you, even the simplest ones. I ran across this quote recently: “What people resist is not change per se, but loss.” This was said by Ronald A. Heifetz, who wrote The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World. I have never heard of Ronald A. Heifetz, but I think he’s onto something.
So my new morning walk becomes a metaphor, too. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even take on Mount Monadnock.
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