I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. – John Muir
Momentum is described as the property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring something to rest when under the action of a constant movement. Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, nature is always in motion. We can resist the flow, stick a toe in the river, or jump in with both feet. One thing is certain, how we feel has everything to do with the nature of our momentum.
We have spent a long time in Portugal in comparison to other legs of this journey. We didn’t expect to stay but couldn’t quite bring ourselves to leave. Something unexpected happened recently. We started to slowly trudge through the day-to-day. We worked at all hours to keep international deadlines. We felt a bit distant from each other as our social calendar filled up. We started saying things like, “We are too busy to go to the beach.” We started to worry more, laugh less, and watch more evening television, which we justified by the fact that it was in a foreign language.
We realized this behavior felt familiar and we needed to take charge. Lack of presence has nothing to do with geography. For us, it is something that creeps in like a chill through an old window pane. It happens when we revert to old patterns in times of uncertainty. It happens when we get the momentum going in an unwanted direction. It happens when we look outside of ourselves for evidence that we are on the right path. It happens …
The only thing that corrects our course, without fail, is nature. In comparison to many of the countries we have lived in, nature is very accessible in Portugal. It is so easy to access in fact, that pilgrims heading toward Santiago de Compostela walk right past our door. Last week, we decided to follow them.
We didn’t know how far we would go with only a daypack but the important thing was taking the first step. Some days putting one foot in front of the other is all it takes for greatness to find us.
We felt the resistance in our bones melting away with each curve of the snaking road. As we headed out of our village, the cicadas song replaced our chatter and we were silent by the time we crested the bend overlooking Nazaré.
Feeling the change
We walked slowly along the cliffs, noticing new bird calls and cascading summer blooms. We could feel our energy picking up again as we rested in the shade of a hand-hewn barn, watching seeds dance in the gentle breeze. We observed nature’s wonders long enough to remember we are an integral part of it all.
By the time we reached a lookout where the trail diverged, we were both stunned by the majestic view and drawn into the tiniest details. Our eyes landed first on the dusty road, lined with proud poppies, leading to Fatima. We then noticed crabs clinging to rocks in the crashing Atlantic just underfoot. The impressions were expansive and introspective, inclusive and regal, minuscule and grand, simple and complex, all in one brief moment. We took an audible, collective, grateful breath. Nature is so gracious in its gifts, but we have to be present to receive them.
Nature releases resistance sometimes slowly, other times powerfully, and always by example. Suddenly out of that calm comes momentum from a new direction. There is nothing more simple and more profound than a walk (tweet this).