More from the Series on my Walking Against Depression. It is working!
As a teen I used to backpack with my family. Backpacking was very enjoyable. I loved being in nature, hiking through the woods and eating under the trees. It could also be very hard. We carried what we needed on our backs, in heavy cumbersome packs. Our feet hurt, legs were sore, and lungs burned with deep breaths as we trudged along, up and down mountains.
With the start of the day we had plenty of energy, the miles ahead seemed easy and the sun’s rays filtered between the leaves on our path. Insects buzzed, breezes blew, and adventure lay ahead. We walked. As lunchtime approached we started feeling tired, and we were happy to stop and rest. Lunch tasted great, whatever it was, and the food and rest renewed our energies. In the afternoon we walked, the sun beating down in hot waves, sweat dripping and insects biting. Aches and pains showed up, the pack became heavier, digging into hips and shoulders. I couldn’t imagine walking the 3 or 4 miles left before we could stop and camp. Three miles felt like 300, a number beyond reach. We began to focus only on the next mile, then the next hill, then the next step. Step after step, all I had to do was make one more step. One step wasn’t so bad, one more was OK, I think I could go up one more hill, maybe one more mile was OK, and suddenly we had arrived. We were at camp, and the day’s hike was over.
Yesterday I went for a walk, a good 6 mile walk, in the morning before the heat became unbearable. Walking, along with family, faith and medicine, was helping the depression, and now I walked for pleasure as well as prevention.
I left my neighborhood and walked along the sidewalk beside a somewhat busy road. It had been at least a month since I had walked longer than 2 miles, but I was determined to go 6 today. I passed an old school building that offered Head Start classes. I passed a Catholic church and a Baptist church, a few homes and our brand new library. A woman pulled into the parking lot but the library wasn’t open yet. She dropped her books in the outdoor return and left. I turned at the railroad tracks and now walked in full sun. It was hot, very hot. My legs were tired and my tummy hurt.
I thought about the things that had depressed me. Walking was supposed to help. The physical act of moving, of being outdoors, the adrenaline, all of these factors helped to lift my depression. This is why I’ve been writing about the walking. If it helps me, it could help others as well.
I thought about my faith. I’ve been struggling in this area for over a year, and I had this image of me living for the next 30 years, still struggling, still depressed. My life loomed in front of me, a dark tunnel of struggle. I shook the image away.
I was now at the local ballpark. A few people were mowing and preparing the fields. A pair of hawks had built a nest in one of the field lights, and I squinted to watch them. The midpoint of my walk was ahead, the Hanahan Amphitheater and view of the Reservoir. I sat and rested in the shade, enjoyed the view, and watched a couple of fishermen in a boat.
Once rested, I stood and began the walk back home, back in the hot sun, much hotter as the day advanced. I had three hot miles to go, and I was tired. OK, think only about walking to the shade further ahead, I reminded myself. On I walked. The dark tunnel of 30 years of faith struggles returned. The thing was, I had been praying, feeling good about my faith, and loving my daily reading of the book of John. Why should I worry about the future of my faith when the present was fine, not great or strong, but fine. Today, I believed, and I trusted. Today is where I am.
Shade reached, one mile down, two to go. All I have to do is believe today, follow God today. Tomorrow I will pray, ask for help, and follow God, just one more day.
I passed the library; the parking lot was now full. That made me happy as I imagined all those cars full of readers. I walked on. The dark tunnel had receded. I thought about my job. Being a Real Estate Agent terrified me, and I knew I didn’t want to do this forever. But today, I was working on a project for a family. I knew how to help them. I knew the tasks I needed to do so they could move here. That project wasn’t bad, I was enjoying myself and I was capable to the task. Focus on today, do what I can do.
I passed the churches, the Head start and only one mile was left. I knew I could finish the walk. I knew I could face the future, one day at a time, one step at a time, one prayer at a time.