Taking A Walk

Walking Down US Highway 11 – Winchester, Virginia to Louisiana

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Pace and Patience

January 6th, 2010 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

“Relax, breathe, calm yourself,” is what I thought over and over.

On the road, especially when alone, I wanted to go faster. “If I could only walk four miles an hour, I could…” I don’t remember how many times I ran this calculation while walking. I never found a good answer to this “if.”

I suppose this is a curse I have. I loved walking, seeing the sights, smelling the odors, experiencing every step. Still, I found myself trying to walk faster so that I would reach the end sooner. Why try to finish something that I loved sooner? That didn’t make any sense, but that is what I was trying in vain to do.

My solution to this self-imposed problem was in two words: pace and patience. I found this early in the walk and thereby said these words aloud countless times during the days.

Pace had two meanings. The first was in the moment. How fast was I walking at this moment? How fast was I trying to walk at this moment? What time was it? If I walked fast during the morning, I suffered greater in the afternoon and covered fewer miles for the day. When I walked slower in the morning and took more and longer breaks, I had more energy in the afternoon. I could walk farther for the day and hurt less in the evening. Hurting less in the evening meant better sleep at night and more energy on the morrow. There is no use to hurry now, pace yourself.

The second meaning of pace came in the day-to-day of walking. I walked 20 miles on some days. Those days, however, were separated by days of lesser distances. Do twenty today, but not the next two days. How many days this week did I stretch myself? Today is Saturday, so I can push it today because I will not walk any tomorrow.

Patience, ah patience. I believe that I am more patient than most people. That comes from years of writing articles and books. Publishers move slowly, at least when seen from the writer’s perspective. Publishers may have a vastly different opinion on the pace of their work. Finished articles take months to appear in print. Finished books may take years to be published. And the checks that come in payment for the writing, well those take forever (actually, they come quarterly). Still, walking grew my patience. “The next town was five miles away, let’s go, let’s get there soon. No, patience. Five miles means about one and three-quarters hours. Walk your regular pace. Hurrying will not bring anything but pain. Be patient.”

Pace and patience.

Pace and patience.

Pace and patience.

I walked 1,100 miles. I was never able to take more than one step at a time. I was never able to walk four miles in one hour. Pace myself and be patient. Enjoy the walk.

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