Walk Away From It

Expectations. We’ve all got them.

If we’re lucky, life is long, full of opportunity, packed with promise. But how do we cope when the future we’d planned for falls through? How do we stop our disappointments from pinning us down in the past and closing our minds from seeing new opportunities?

What you dwell upon grows. 

I learned a lot when I began to understand this simple concept. I firmly believe that each of us has the power to control what we think about and how we allow things to play out in our minds. I work hard at it. It’s the same for the choices we make about the food we put into our mouths and which channel we select when we reach for the remote control. Yes, of course, there are powerful streaks of irrationality and emotion in the way we all think, but as a grown-up, I feel it’s up to me to be disciplined and to take control. I need to have courage.

I walk for 30 minutes every day and it’s amazing the new things I see.

Whatever the weather, whatever’s going on, at 5pm I walk out of the front door on my prosthetic legs. I turn left, then left again, and I follow a long straight path that heads for the ring road. There is grass, there is clover, there are trees. Birds. Insects. Clouds overhead, cars in the distance, people passing by. On these walks, I start out trying to solve the problems of the day in my head, but by five minutes in, I’ve usually lost the thread.

I think that’s what you’d call, relaxation.   

Here’s a list of the kind of things I begin to notice. The strong, early summer breeze, cool against my skin, making me slightly breathless. White blossom on the bushes either side of me – it bobs up and down like foam on the waves of the sea. Sparrows and blue tits darting in and out of the trees. Butterflies and ladybirds on the path in front of me, moving this way and that. I try to step between them. The way the clouds move across the sky – they’re enormous, steady and fearless, white ships on a big blue ocean. I feel the weight of my false arms as I proceed. They are heavy. They hurt a bit.

These are moments, lost in time.    

They’re insignificant. They matter to no-one. They won’t be reported on the six o’clock news when I get home, and they will be instantly forgotten, even by me. But let’s return to where we started, thinking about how we cope with the frustration of unfulfilled expectations. Because what I feel when I’m walking is a complete sense of detachment from the central preoccupations of my life. I’m just wholly in the moment, exposed to the elements, at one with my surroundings.

In this way, when I walk, I’m free.

I’m able to distance myself from my disappointments. And even though I walk exactly the same route every day, I notice new things all the time. This reminds me that life is incredible in its variety, diversity and beauty. Above all, this makes me think and feel more positively and more creatively. The outside word fills me with hope. It fills me with resilience.