An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of October 6, 2006
Written in the woods just east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

WALKING AS THERAPY

It just may be that there is no free, all-purpose therapy for bruised souls and/or neglected or abused bodies as effective and pleasurable as walking.

One thing about walking is that once you're into it you discover all kinds of conversations going on inside your head -- pent-up talks that should have been, or were and shouldn't have been, that might have been, that may be someday... Mostly it's all rubbish, but the point is that once it's articulated inside your head, is easier to get rid of than if you just let it keep simmering unattended. The first good thing a long walk does for you, then, is to let you spew off stuff that's been building up inside. Since I'd had such a fine summer and no problems worth mentioning, I was surprised that even I had a bit of spewing to do, and now that it was taken care of, I felt even better than the good way I'd felt before!

I hiked my first ten miles before noticing that I'd grown hungry and thirsty, and that it was time for a rest. It was about 2 PM and the temperature was in the mid 80s, there was a bright blue sky with skin-tingling sunlight and a nice breeze carrying a slight scent of rain across the pastures and fields and through the woodlots I'd been passing by. I sat in the shade of a big Water Oak next to a small church's cemetery and brought out my cornbread, a melted gob of Mexican-style Velveeta cheese, and some hard, green pears I'd brought down from Polly's Bend, and, to tell the truth, I don't think anything could have tasted better right then, right there. Even the water from the gallon vinegar jug slung on my backpack tasted sweet and sparkling. Good walks make food taste so good that that's enough reason in itself to take walks.

By the second and third day of my walk, which covered maybe 40 miles of backcountry, largely national-forest roads, my brain spewing was over, my body was on autopilot, and I could just lean back, back behind my eyeballs, and watch the country pass by as I cogitated on higher things.

In fact, once again I worked out the whole reasoning process behind my belief that we living things are alive so that we can FEEL and EXPLORE the world the Creator has created, so the Creator can know better Herself what she's done, know the value of what she's created. And I confirmed once again the deduction that the best thing we living things can do with our time is just to live, to feel things exquisitely, and to struggle as hard as possible to know about the world around us -- to be the most sensitive, alert nerve-endings achievable for the self-examening Creator.

Anyway, it was a fine walk. I think the body needs to be stressed from time to time, so I also got that done. I feel good knowing that my old body can still lug a heavy backpack for 40 miles. I'm glad I got some spewing done and that I've rethought some of my basic beliefs.

How much is such an experience worth? Basically it only cost me wear and tear on my shoes and backpack, and the price of a package of Mexican-style Velveeta Cheese, which I'd bought just for the walk. Facebook Icon.