Monday, 2 January 2012

A Morning Walk


The view was always one to savour. It was one that I had seen many times. I had grown up here, spent childhood years playing on the caravan site which was my home, messing around on the beach, swimming in the sea. Even so, as I rounded the point to see the a high tide pushing onto the vast expanse of beach, it was still special. I decided as soon as I drew back the curtains, welcoming in the light of the new day, that I needed to get out. Normally I would decide to run, but that could wait till later, to bring routine to a quiet evening. This morning I fancied a walk.

I made in the direction of Skegness, without haste or idea of final destination. The day was glorious- clear blue skies, a brilliant sun, combined with the chill of a perfect winters morning. My girlfriend had given me a camera for Christmas. I'd take a few pictures, head to the cafe at Winthorpe, have a brew and walk back. I've always walked alot, but mostly as a mode of transport, rather than as a source of enjoyment. Things were slowly changing though, and now walking, especially in the countryside, was starting to appeal to me nearly as much as running. Instrumental in this change of mindset was Satish Kumar.

At the age of nine Satish became a member of travelling Jain monks,practising the doctrine of ahimsa-'Do no harm to living things.' At 18 he became a follower of  Gandi, and then after Gandi's death, joined a social movement led by Vinoba Bhave, Gandi's foremost disciple. It was in his twenties that Satish realised the spiritual significance of 'walking.' In the late 1960's Satish and a friend began their 'pilgrimage for peace.' Inspired by the philosopher, Bertrand Russell and his campaigning work against the nuclear threat. the 'pilgrimage for peace' took the form of  a 8000 mile journey from India through Russia and Europe to America, all on foot. The two men would spread the word of peace, extol the virtues of vegetarianism and carry no money.

My favourite story involving Satish comes in the form of a chance encounter as Satish and his friend were climbing the Khyber Pass. A car passed the pair and came to a halt. The driver reversed and sensing they may be in difficulty offered the two men a lift. Satish politely declined the offer and stated, ' No thankyou. We're walking.'
'Walking to where?' asked the driver.
'To the United States of America.' stated Satish.
The driver then stated that he was from the USA,and after giving Satish and his friend his address, bade farewell. A couple of years later Satish called the man, reminded him of his chance encounter with those two crazy men in Pakistan who were walking round the world. Well those two crazy men were now in America and , as promised. were coming to pay him a visit!

Satish now resides in Hartland, a village in Dorset. He is Programme Director at Schumacher College, the acclaimed institution specialising in 'green' initiatives and alternative thinking, and editor of the famous bi-monthly magazine,Resurgence. From reports I have read the special thing about Satish are his personal attributes. He shows no emotional signs of rancour, enmity or resentment- all negative emotions that plague me and most people I know. It is this that I aspire to.


As I ran over the fields this evening, my path only illuminated by my headtorch, I once again thought of Satish. A person dear to my heart, when asked by myself what my writings on this blog told her about me, replied, ' Someone who's searching.' The more I've mulled this over this last few days, the more I agree. While others accept, I question. Opinion and confrontation have been, are still are,to some extent my friends. But this is not something I welcome or accept. I am searching, and the search is for inner peace, something that Satish seems to have found. This last year may not have been productive in terms of material gain, but has been productive in the journey to peace. I realise that the path is still long and winding, but progress has been made. Relationships have been repaired and one special person has taught me, not only to love, but to accept love. The path goes on. The walk continues.

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