Walking and noticing

I’m at this moment heading back from Bristol to London after our first workshop on the Walking Interconnections research, where as a group of around 25 people we gathered to begin a journey of exploration together on sustainability and disability. Already on the train, and with a couple of hours ahead to get to Paddington Station, my mind starts to fly all the way back through the day – I love these trips back home right after a group activity, where I get flashes of images, sounds and tastes of it; it’s like my mind is trying to grab those nice memories so that they wouldn’t slip away. It was, indeed, a great day.

Two words are still resonating in my head very strongly: walking and noticing. As the workshop evolved, Sue, Dee, Shawn, Suze and Alison presented the background of Walking Interconnections project, and we talked about the practice of walking, disability, sustainability and engaging in interdependency with others, with our communities. More and more, this idea of ‘noticing’ grew into me strongly.

I began to ask myself: How much do I ‘notice’ when I walk every day? How much do I allow myself to “feel the Earth below myself”? How much do I look at other people’s eyes when I’m walking, strangers as they might be, but people I’m walking with at last? How much do I let myself lift my head up, turn around and enjoy while I pass by?

Yes, we are running all the time. And yes, that’s how “the world works”, supposedly. But do I want to feel trapped in the clock, rushing for the sake of rushing? How much do I loose when I do that? What does the world of ‘noticing’ have to offer me that I haven’t realized about yet?

Now I’m out of the train, walking through the station to the underground, and I see… I notice that I don’t notice. That insight made me reflect on something: how can we expect change to happen, if we don’t notice the world that’s around us? I don’t want to fall into the trap of being overly simplistic and say that all the issues of the world will be solved once we start noticing – I wish so certainly, but as much as I would like it to be so linear and straightforward, it is not. However, noticing does feel to me as a major first step. If we want to make things happen, if we want change to occur, we need to start noticing more, engage our whole being, our senses, when we walk, when we talk, when we listen – being present, embodied, showing up completely. Otherwise, it feels to me that it all begins and ends in our heads, sort of an intellectual mind game where we supposedly understand what’s wrong and how to fix it – that’s it! All done! Yet, we are still falling apart…

One of the most transformational things that I have done recently was an eco-walk through the High Moor in Devon. And now I realized why it changed me so much. That day, during that walk, I was able to notice, to feel with heart, mind and soul, The Earth and the community I was with. That’s where the energy came from for me, that’s where I realized that, once I start noticing, I’m not excluding myself anymore from the environment – I merge within, my noticing becomes part of me and I become part of what I notice. And then I can connect, and then I can change, and only then, I can be a helping hand to overall change.

I’m at home now, still getting flashes and glimpses of the great day at Bristol, and fantasizing about the walks ahead; in the meantime, I have my everyday walks to start noticing.

Sole Riestra

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