The road goes ever on...

The road goes ever on…

Okay, I’ve finally found a use for Facebook.

Several of my fellow writers, including Maria Powers, Christine Ashworth, and Maggie Marr, have been logging their exercise under the hashtag #healthywriter. Needing a kick in the pants, I jumped in. Earlier in the year, I’d been walking regularly, at least 40 minutes five days out of seven. Then I was sick for about two weeks and found it difficult to get back in the groove of things.

Cut to a couple of months later…

Make that several…

So it was November when I noticed the #healthywriter tag again, and said to myself, “Self, you need to stop making excuses and get back into exercising. This is a good way to do it.” So I actually got out of bed, got moving and did it. Of course, I then promptly managed to find an excuse every other morning that week not to, but we’ve all done that sometimes. (Haven’t we? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.)

But somehow, for the past two months, I’ve managed to make it out at least one day a week, sometimes twice, and even three times a few weeks. That’s where Facebook comes in. See, now that I’ve poked my head up, there are people who will know if I’m avoiding getting out and walking. They won’t come after me — okay, some of them might — but I’ll know they know. Amazing what powerful motivation not falling down in front of folk can be.

But then I remembered something important I’d forgotten between the time I’d stopped walking and now: It’s really, really quiet out there at the moment just as the sun is coming over the horizon. That’s no one but you and a few other hardy souls, who are more than happy to leave you to your efforts as long as you leave them to theirs. For that short period of time, there is no one demanding your attention, nothing that needs to be done, and no one you need to answer to except for yourself and that road ahead.

Of course, you haven’t left anything behind and any number of thoughts, good and bad, can go swarming through your head while you’re out there. But for the briefest of moments, we have the illusion that we’re free, with nothing to tie us down or hold us back. Sometimes that illusion is what we need to get us moving for the day. It’s not just that we’ve done something good for our bodies (we have), but we’ve done something good for the mind and spirit. I’m not talking about a virtuous sense of accomplishment for having exercised; nothing makes me reach for a donut faster than reading about that. What I’m talking about is the gift of time alone, where even if your mind is still working at the problem that’s been gnawing at you, your mind’s able to work at it without fifteen other things demanding your attention at the same time. I try to figure out how to solve plot problems, a new way to tackle a knitting pattern that’s giving me fits, consider how I’ll cope with a situation at work, or, sometimes, just let the mind drift.

Even if you’re not looking to get into an exercise routine or can’t go pounding the pavement early in the morning, I recommend that every once in a while you give yourself the treat of stepping outside when the world is quiet and just let your mind relax. If nothing else, you can enjoy the sunrise – and that’s always a sight worth getting up for.