I have been walking 10,000 steps a day for two years, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
So, although I am writing a little less frequently on my blog in order to finish some blog-related projects right now (see this post about it), it seemed appropriate to write to update you on my walking adventures.
Two years ago, during the pandemic, I had been spending a lot more time inside because of stress and my attempts to learn how to teach during such crazy times. I was craving the outdoors. So, one day, when I read a challenge online about walking 10,000 steps a day, it lit a fire in me. I accepted the walking challenge almost immediately. You can read more about my process in these past posts:
Now, in a post like this, you might expect me to talk about the health benefits of walking. And there are innumerable benefits. I discuss these things in my previous posts. But believe it or not, even though I love the health benefits of walking, what I love the most about walking is that it has re-enchanted my life.
I am visiting family in Oregon, and this is from a walk in an Oregon forest the other day.
And that’s what I want to write about in this post.
Let me pause for a minute to discuss re-enchantment—or rather, disenchantment, which is a problem I think many people struggle with in the modern life. The idea of disenchantment in contemporary society is not a concept I invented. Sociologist Max Weber wrote about the way in which science has dispelled notions of religion in contemporary society. And this trend, he suggests, is largely behind the feelings of disenchantment we experience in the modern world.
Perhaps this is so. For example, one of the ways religion and spirituality operate in our lives is that it attunes us to something larger than ourselves—a mysterious, miraculous force that is not in our control. This force, which many people conceive of as God, can provide help and hope when we feel lost. It can provide wisdom beyond us when we are confused. And it can provide unexpected and delightful gifts. All these gifts of the Divine can feel magical and miraculous, so certainly if science refutes the power of religions or spirituality in our life, that could be a source of disenchantment
But this was not the source of my disenchantment. As you know, if you have followed my blog for while, spirituality and faith is a big part of my life. So, I don’t suffer the disenchantment that comes from feeling sundered from spirituality. You can read more about this here: Non-Duality and a Love vs. Ego-Driven Life. (Also, I am reading this book which discusses the way in which science and spirituality can be compatible. So, for me, science doesn’t discount spirituality.)
Rather, my disenchantment seemed to come from the kind of problem author David Abram addresses in the preface of his book Spell of the Sensuous. Abram explains that for most of history, humans have lived in close proximity with nature, and this has dramatically enriched human life. Landscapes, bird calls, animal cries, weather patterns, and ecology have beckoned and spoken to human beings, sharpening and developing their senses. The natural world is not in our control. As such, in nature we feel confronted by something alien and strange, as well as beautiful and enriching. Such complex confrontations add mystery, fear, wonder, awe, joy, and exhilaration to our life. In nature we recognize both a gift and a challenge.
The gift of nature is the banquet of sensory delights it regularly presents to us. The challenge is all the strange and often weird things in nature that surprise and sometimes frighten us.
This is from a walk in the same forest. This stream is usually calm and shallow. But recent rains turned it into a near-torrent of water. It was beautiful and a little scary.
This is enchantment.
On the other hand, Abrams notes, the more we stay inside, surrounded by human technologies and inventions, the more we surround ourselves with monotony, sameness, predictability–a planned and programmed existence. Everything is human-made and human-invented which, paradoxically, can blind us to what it means to be a human being in all its richness and complexity. Abram writes that “Without the oxygenating breath of the forests, without the clutch of gravity and the tumbled magic of river rapids, we have no distance from our technologies, no way of assessing their limitations, no way to keep ourselves from turning into them” (x).
We need the magic of nature to call forth our beautiful human power. The magic I find in nature has re-enchanted my life. The more I walk outside, the more powerful and alive I feel. And the more I walk outside, the more I find myself confronted by a big, beautiful world that is outside of my control. Sometimes it scares me. Usually it delights me. Regularly, it beckons me to play, to run, to jump, to marvel, and to stand in awe of its majesty.
Every day literally feels more wonder-ful and magical. So, that’s why I have been walking 10,000 steps almost every day for two years. And that is why I will keep walking. For the rest of my life. Maybe you would like to start walking, too.
This picture is from a walk this morning. I was playing on these tree stumps, which were wet from rain and almost slipped. It was a good lesson in paying attention.