For October I’ve given myself the challenge of going for at least a 20-minute walk every day. This is part of me digging deeper into Julia Cameron’s book The Vein of Gold, which in turn is part of me continuing to home in on my creative core. Cameron contends, and many, many writers concur, that you can walk out just about any problem, and that, while walking, ideas can percolate and your mind can sort itself out. And then, of course, a daily walk is good for your body. Lastly, a daily walk is also part of my mission of savoring fall. What better month than October to be outside every day, ideally walking through the brilliance of fall foliage?
Nevertheless I was reluctant to take on this challenge, mainly because I typically don’t like challenges like this, and if I do take one on, then I want to be able to succeed, and I know doing something every day is a big challenge. Why? Why would a daily walk be hard? I actually love walking, and I love being outside. So that’s not it.
Mainly, for me, it is a scheduling challenge, meaning I have to prioritize something I want to do. On some days one obligation chases another and by the end of the day, when it’s already dark outside, I have to co-opt my husband to go out for a walk with me. That’s nice, actually, as it’s not something we would do if it weren’t for my daily walk challenge.
A daily walk is also a mental commitment. I’m on day 16 now, and there have been a few days already when I almost forgot to go for my walk preoccupied as I was with lots of other things. So again it’ll be 9 p.m. by the time my husband and I head out. However, we have thus gotten to enjoy some of the neighborhood Halloween decorations that can only be appreciated glowing in the dark.
Natalie Goldberg warns against taking on a practice that you can’t keep up, because a practice is all about doing it every day. It’s precisely about overcoming that inner resistance and all the excuses one can come up with, and making the commitment to do it, even if it’s already 9 p.m. and you’re dead tired. The reward, according to Goldberg in her book The True Secret of Writing, is confidence in being able to do whatever you set out to do. That confidence comes from having overcome, consistently, that inner resistance. It also comes from demonstrating to yourself that you can do what you set out to do. It comes from mastering your own mind (I’m getting Zen here, I know! That’s Natalie Goldberg’s fault…).
Embarking on my daily walk challenge I reminded myself that I’d already succeeded at a daily challenge three times before by doing the Blogathon. Come to think of it, however, in blogging you can “cheat” by preparing a few posts ahead of time and scheduling them to publish one day after another. I can’t do that with the walking. I simply have to put on those hiking boots and head out every day. So that’s what I’m doing. If you have any tips on how to make it through a month-long daily challenge (and maybe continue on?), please let me know!