To walk is joy

“Movement is the song of the body”—Vanda Scaravelli

The sky is denim blue as I leave the house and the oak tree is a charcoal bushy silhouette against the glowing horizon.

Today for the first time in two months I feel an honest urge to go for a walk—not for health or fitness or to train for some crazy long-distance walk but because my body feels like walking.

I have spent the last two months mostly at home, my walking limited to what was necessary: grocery shopping, to move between my bedroom, kitchen and the bathroom, and between the house and the car and a local café or friend’s house when my body was willing and the pain not too bad.

This period of being still, resting in the here and now, and doing nothing internal or external that didn’t come from a place of pure inspiration is what my body has needed to relax and to heal.

I am moving out of pain and back out into the world.

Wearing my purple and yellow runners, favourite black leggings, and bright pink parka to keep warm against the fresh evening air of this deepening autumn, I leave the house in the post-sunset glow.

My body is unexpectedly eager. Although it is still waking up from its summer hibernation of healing, it urges me on, excited to take step after step through the suburban streets down to the local park 600 metres away.

I arrive at the park at the beginning of nautical twilight: the miniature skyscrapers with their dotted lights are shrouded in a fading peach glow and the sky darkens from silver to midnight blue directly above me.

The world is not silent. The muted hum of the dying peak hour drones from the freeway beyond the park and the occasional car drives past on the perimeter roads. From the tennis courts on the south border, balls are hit, male voices call out. Stones crunch into the concrete path beneath my feet.

Before me is open space: two large playing ovals—an uncrowded oasis amidst the bricks and rendering of suburbia.

I notice it all: the colours, the open space, the freshness of the autumn air, the sounds, and the peace beneath the sounds.

What I love most of all is this glorious movement: my hips sashaying side to side, my legs powering me forward, my feet pressing firmly into the earth, the subtle balancing sway of my jaw, my arms swinging loosely by my side.

I feel like dancing. My body is flooded with joy to be moving freely through this world again, foot to earth, foot to earth.

Perhaps this is what it felt like when as toddlers we started taking our first steps in the world with glee. We didn’t know how long we would last on our feet before we crashed to the ground and we probably didn’t care—solely fascinated by the feat of walking on our own two feet.

Right now, I don’t care that my pilgrimage dream of walking from Rome to Jerusalem didn’t come to fruition. It doesn't matter that I spent months in pain sitting or lying on my bedroom floor. In a strange way, it was worth it for this experience...

I am captivated by the sensation of walking as if I am doing it for the first time. This movement is my song of joy.

What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

"If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us" — Daisaku Ikeda

...I have wept tears lying on my bedroom floor. I have rocked my pain-filled hip as if it were my own child that was filled with pain and crying. I have woken day after day and lamented that it’s not the day that I go back to normal life again. But the truth is I never will. This pain has burned me to ashes.

Throughout this pain-filled journey, there are two things that have kept me going...

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So many times over the last few weeks I have sat down to write about what has happened since I left London to drift. Each time I felt like I was in the word version of a snow dome: words and sentences danced around my head but didn't come together to form what I wanted to say.

Sometimes life is messy and chaotic and it doesn't seem to make any sense and we don't have to make sense of it although we may try. So here I am, again, trying.

Consistent with the theme of my life this year, drifting did not turn out as I dreamed it might.

In hindsight, Rome probably wasn't the best city to visit so soon after recovering from my initial back and pelvis issues. It is a BIG city and with so much to see and absorb, it is one that I just cannot NOT walk in. 

I love walking. I love feeling the earth beneath my feet. I love the freedom of moving, powering my own movement towards anything I set my heart and sights on. 

So I walked. Everywhere. Even out of Rome along Via Appia Antica which would have been my route out of Rome to Jerusalem.

And I ruptured the plantar plate in my left foot which resulted in a new round of lower back pain so severe I could barely stand and watch Papa Francesco give Mass at St Peter's Square. Walking became a slow shuffle.

Optimistic and stubborn, I hoped for the best that it would just go away. I travelled to the hilltop town of Orvieto in Umbria but my back did not improve and the pain of strolling around the small town was overshadowing the joy of being in such a beautiful place. 

I dreamed of drifting through mystical places like Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, Meteora in Greece and then Istanbul but my body was not in alignment with this dreaming. It cried out for me to stop. It brought me to a standstill. Heeding its call, I returned to London for further treatment and stayed there for 4 weeks before deciding it was time to return to Melbourne to continue healing on native soil.

These last few months have been challenging as I have struggled to cope with pain and accept that life had presented me with an experience that I had not expected, wished for or wanted. That I cannot do what I want to do: move, walk, travel, and lately even drive. At first I was frustrated with my body. I felt like it had let me down but now I think it has been more faithful to my spirit than I have been.

I have learned a lot about the human body: how everything is connected and how it compensates for injuries, how the mind and our thoughts affects our posture and movement. I have seen firsthand how our biography becomes our biology and how changing those stories, those thoughts and beliefs systems can change the body.

I have met some wonderful healer teachers who have touched me as much with their caring, compassionate, passionate spirits as with their healing and teachings.

As Tosha Silver says in Outrageous Openness, "When the agenda and shopping lists of the ego are released, room is created for a Divine Plan far beyond the manipulations of the mind. To me, this is what creates true happiness and awakening. Then existence becomes a daily surprise as it unfolds, and we can literally be used by Love as a force for good. Life happens through us and for us, rather than BY us. It is actually a very, very powerful way to live. And it is available to anyone...with practice."

This is my learning and it is my practice. And when I forget then remember I will practice again and again.

Since I became a modern gypsy almost 7 years ago, splitting my time between Melbourne and Thailand, returning to Melbourne has been a love-hate experience for me. I was born there. My family and many friends live there but I don't have my own home base there and I don't feel a strong connection to the city. When I am living there, I feel too far from wild nature. I have spent so much time living outdoors close to the jungle and in the sea that I feel dry and barren in the city.

As part of my search for truth and meaning, I have been looking for a place on the earth that feels like home. I was looking outside of myself when what I needed was to come home to myself first.

This body that is the temple of my spirit, my connection between heaven and earth. This body that has been shamed and punished and neglected. This body, my body is the most important home I have regardless of where it happens to be on this planet. 

This period of my life is one of remembering and of learning to fully inhabit my home.

Finally I am settling in, loving what is uniquely mine and attending to my housekeeping: breathing, stretching, stillness, paying attention to how my body feels, how it moves, what it needs, my beliefs, my thoughts and patiently re-training my body's movements so it is centred and balanced and I am pain-free.

View to Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome

The joy of bubbles, Piazza del Popolo, Rome

A lady caring for the pigeons, Rome.

My would-have-been maybe-one-day route out of Rome to Jerusalem

The bridge to Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio

View from Orvieto