Walking the Southwest Coastal Path


Day 3
Close to fifteen miles today and feeling the rhythm of walking working upon our sense of self connecting to the land. That can take time, or not occur at all, if one is not in proper focus. It becomes a matter of having your head connected to the same place your feet are taking you of course, but we don’t often hear about such things. We take it for granted I suppose that we know how to walk. Typically, I suspect most view it purely as a means for getting from A to B, but walking is serious business and we could do ourselves much good if we paid better attention to it. I like to focus on my breathing as I connect with each step I take, while letting any invasive thoughts go. Taking a step is like allowing oneself to fall, with the ground then reaching up to catch us; the net result being that we enter into a flow or dance that we call forward motion. Or walking. It’s a uniquely trust filled moment that likewise is a hallmark aspect of our humanness. I don’t try to think about it but I pay attention to my breath, sense my feet touching the earth, and allow the moment, and the land, to speak.
And the land does speak if we have ears to hear! Its a subtle kind of communication, but its very real for the landscape is alive and always reaching out to us. Thoreau knew it, and in his essay Walking he speaks to the Walker going to the “west” in all of his or her walks, and to do so in a ruminative sort of way. The “west” being his metaphor for what he calls wildness, and what will ensure the very survival of the world. Not something to take lightly these days.
That state of wildness is nothing less than our state of being, where our “genius” resides in relationship and communion with “other”; all that constitutes life and living. An “All and Everything”, which includes the land.

So it was with these thoughts in mind today, while walking, that my rumination led me to the concept of what’s called here “the right to roam”. That right, called the Countryside and Rights of Way Act means you can walk freely and explore the natural environment by finding your own way, without having to follow proscribed pathways. It means I can listen not only to the land, but to myself, and thus enter a state of wildness where some wonderful sort of benediction occurs through the action of walking. A simultaneous falling and being caught; a falling in love.
I couldn’t help asking myself though how that idea applies to the world of education, and having been an educator? How does the right to roam apply to the field upon which youthful minds and individual genius is drawn out, and unfolds? Where new states of relationship occur and inform the world of possible new states of being born out of our wildness. Do we aspire towards that freedom, or do we demand and insure the following of prescribed and narrow pathways?
The answer I find is easily found by listening carefully to what each landscape stands in readiness to impart if we are inwardly able to hear its call. It then becomes our adventure for, and to, the day.


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