I like to hike. I am not super fit or anything but ambling up a hill or small mountain is a beautiful experience. I used to try and keep up with others and would berate myself for being too slow, ungainly or compare myself with the companion I was with who was quicker, lighter, etc. Comparison sucks! I don’t recommend it.
Last winter I brought a very close friend with me to walk up a local small mountain called Moylussa, which is 1,745ft (532m). It is the highest point in County Clare. There is a very steep section close to the top and when she saw it she was like a frightened horse where her eyes were almost white and she was pulling back. She helped me learn something that day. I suggested we look down and focus on one step at a time and we can stop at any time we want. She agreed and we were prepared to stop and turn back if needed. Weirdly, we got to the top with no effort. We were not even out of breath. For us, it was a walking meditation where the ground supported us and we went one step at a time at a very, very slow pace. We got there quicker through no effort. It reminded me of Aesop’s fable for The Hare and The Tortoise. I identify better with the Tortoise.
Today I took a very slow hike alone up Moylussa and I discovered something else. I so enjoyed the upward and downward journey. Getting there did not matter. Experiencing was what mattered to me. The pace, the pain in my ankles and calves, the tightness in my chest and feeling so alive in that, the moods of the sky and the lake below me. The wind blowing through trees and bushes. The creak and moan of the pine trees. The dense smell of the bog. The icy wind blowing through me at the top of Moylussa. The adults, children, and dogs who passed me by with a smile, a chat or curiosity. Sticking my tongue out to catch the raindrops and running my hands across plants and flowers. This was my experience today. Being slow, you get there quicker, and you take in the sight, sound, smells, taste and touch in your slow journey. This for me is the magic of life that you cannot get when you are rushing.