The training of surrender

The training of surrender
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."—Woody Allen

The days until the start of my pilgrimage are falling away so gracefully just like autumn leaves floating and twirling their way to the ground. There are only 3 days left of my work contract, 3 weeks until I fly to Munich and just over 5 weeks until I take my first steps from Rome towards Jerusalem.

In the last two weeks there has been a little slow walking when I have felt the urge but no training.

My Morton’s Neuroma in my left foot has settled down but not gone altogether. And my body has had a painful time adjusting to the orthotics prescribed by my podiatrist. They jarred my lower back and even now, 3 weeks later, I have almost constant lower back pain.

But this isn’t the reason I’m not training.

I surrendered the notion of training for this pilgrimage when I realised how I was pushing and striving and slamming the feminine part of myself that just wants to flow and move with joy.

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Another standstill

Another standstill

There are only 9 weeks left until I take my first steps from Rome to Jerusalem and again I have been brought to a standstill.

I have been pushing myself hard over the last few weeks since the ligaments I tore in my ankle at the end of March healed enough that I could start hiking. I have effectively been working the equivalent of 4 days in 3 as my contract's project moved into a critical phase, plus walking 3 days per week up to 20 kilometres per session, plus finishing the edits on my book so I could try and publish it before I leave, and not to mention trying to finalise plans to walk and pack up my life for 6 months or more.

Then 1 week ago, after back-to-back days walking 16 and 20 kilometres in the Dandenong Ranges and beside the Yarra River wearing the Princess boots, the Morton’s neuroma in my left foot returned. The nerve between my third and fourth metatarsals is compressed and fibrous tissue has formed around it causing constant pain and discomfort.

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The power of silence

The power of silence
"Silence is a source of great strength." — Lao Tzu

Silence is a continuing theme in my life right now and Lao Tzu’s quote has inspired me again.

Dictionary.com defines silence as the absence of sound; stillness.

I define silence as the great undercurrent that holds everything together.

When sound is absent, there is still something there. If you pay attention and try to hear silence, you can feel it. It is an energy that has a deep and eternal source. It holds us as if in cupped hands even when we’re busy noisemakers, even when we forget that it is there.

It is the silence that carries me when I walk and helps me to keep going when the going gets tough.

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Ending this fall of silence

Ending this fall of silence
"Silence is a source of great strength." — Lao Tzu

As we transition seasons from Autumn to Winter here in Melbourne, the remainder of the deciduous trees are in the final stages of surrendering their autumn dresses of lemon and lime, and tangerine, wine red and paper-bag brown. And I feel ready to surrender the silence that unexpectedly enveloped me after I fell.

I spent 1.5 weeks on crutches and 3 weeks applying ice for two hours every night to reduce the enormous swelling. An x-ray confirmed it wasn’t broken. However, I tore the anterior talofibular ligament in my ankle almost entirely apart. As you can imagine, this isn’t ideal for someone planning on walking thousands of kilometres. The healing has been steady but slow. And the fall triggered realisations that caused me to surrender plans made:

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365 days: an anniversary and a countdown

365 days: an anniversary and a countdown
"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

365 days ago,  I arrived in Canterbury to take my first steps along the Via Francigena to Rome, unsure of what lay ahead and if I would be able to make it to Rome within the 90-day visa period but knowing I had to try.

Every morning for 77 day I got up, stiff and crippled by pain until my body relaxed, then packed and set off in wonder of the unknown world to find my way to the next town.

I knew what I was doing - walking to Rome, but it still felt surreal. In some ways it was as simple as taking step after step, day after day, until eventually I found myself in Rome.

That’s life isn’t it? We get up each day and do the best we can and then one day we arrive at the end of our lives.

When I first thought of really, actually going and walking the route alone, I had a lot of fearful thoughts giving me every reason why I shouldn’t go: I had never walked a pilgrimage trail before. I wasn’t a hiker. I hadn’t planned on doing it now. It was just a dream in a maybe never physically actually doing it kind of way. I hadn’t saved for it. My savings would have to drop way below my comfort level to fund it. I had no idea what I was doing.

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