Steve Strolling

Some of the best conversations I have ever had have mostly taken place while I was walking.

What is it about the act of walking, putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again, that changes the conversation, allows us to drop our guard a little lower and go a little deeper?

When visiting my folks, I would often join my dad on his morning walk and I would learn things about him that I had never known.  He used to announce the football games at his high school stadium.  He once met the actor Cary Grant.   He won’t do exercises that require being on the floor!  (His joints are tight, as are mine.  Thanks for the family genes Pops!)

When my kids Melissa and Jameson were growing up we would often take family walks on paths through forests or alongside rivers and talk about how creative God is and how He has made us to be creative as well.  On one family walk in particular, we were following a path in the Deschutes National Forest. Melissa, then seven years old, skipped on ahead of us and around a bend in the trail.  Suddenly a blood curdling scream was heard and we all ran to see Melissa at the edge of the trail, pointing to the ground and continuing to scream!  There was a shiny black dung beetle, minding it’s own business, slowly crawling across the trail!  Thus I learned, on a walk, that my precious daughter was deathly afraid of shinny black dung beetles.  (Who knew?)

I recently “walked” The Narrows in Zion National Park in Utah.  If you have never experienced this breathtakingly amazing hike you must add it to your Bucket List! It is 16 miles in and out of the Virgin river, which is mostly never deeper than your knees with the walls of the canyon being no wider than a school bus in places, but which soar fifteen hundred feet above you!   I was as astonished by The Narrows as I was the first time I saw The Grand Canyon!  During the twelve and a half hour hike I spoke with many other hikers and felt a mutual kinship with all of them.  One hiker I met up with talked about the difference between ego-hiking and selfless-hiking.  He said the idea came from a book he recently read called “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”  He explained that ego-hiking was a focused, self-willed drive to reach the end of your journey as fast as you can regardless of the beauty of your surroundings and that selfless-hiking was an equally focused drive to experience the beauty of your journey and experience, moment by moment, your surroundings regardless of the time it may be taking.

This insightful conversation with a fellow hiker caused me to rethink the speed of my own pace and in turn the pace of my life as well.  May all our walks be self-less walks and may all our prayers, conversations and stories . . . be self-less ones!