Jan 022018
 

 

 

 

“There is no song more agreeable to the heart, than the slow even breath of the pilgrim, learning to bless and be blessed by the mystery.”

Stephen Devine

 

The Camino wrecked me for an ordinary life.

I’d pretty much failed that test anyway, however walking 32 days straight for more than 900kms – for all its agonies and ecstasies – left me with one giant impossibility: I never wanted to come inside again.

No matter how beautiful the home, no matter precious the objects in it, no matter . . . (fill in your story), none of it compares to a wild sky loaded with stars at night, a gentle creek at dawn, a farmyard restless with feeding time, a surprise eclipse stealing the midday sun.

Even when life is at its most desperate discomfort – the heat of late summer paddocks, an endless rain hammering frozen fingers, a bed not forthcoming at the end of a long day’s walk. These are small prices to pay on the pilgrim’s road, even as they loom large at the time – because no matter what the external circumstances, when one is outside walking the soul is soaring. And we all know that when the heart is happy, life is good.

Writing too disrupted my life.

The longing to write that took root in my heart became a crescendo, and despite the crescendo still I ignored it. It was like having a symphony orchestra show up in your kitchen and acting as though you were listening to music through the speaker on your phone.

One day the cymbals in that orchestra shattered all I thought I knew and I walked out of my life. I had no idea what I would do, exactly, but I knew that I wanted to write and I did not want to die wondering.

Some time later I hit the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela and vowed to make no decisions until the day came when one more step, just one more, would take me off the pilgrim road to . . . deep down I knew. I knew I would write.

And there we have it.

Walking. Writing. Walking and writing.

They teach fearlessness. They teach commitment. They teach endurance. They command us to wake up.

Walking and writing both, rattle our bones and shatter our self-importance until we pay attention to twin human realities that define the soul willing no longer to settle for less:

* the longing to share our story

* a hankering to walk the turning wheel that is the world outside our door.

Wherever, you are – cities, factories, apartments, farms – walk. Walk when you can. Step it up, step it out. Let your eyes take a wander with your spirit, tune your ears into life broadcasting all around you. And one day, one day, shove a pen and small piece of paper in your pocket, and begin.

Walk while you write, write while you walk. Rest and write. Walk.

And as you begin to write your story, you will learn a profound pilgrim lesson: as within, so without.

Walking, writing: so many mysteries, revealed.

 

Stephanie DaleWritten by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.

Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road is dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.

 January 2, 2018  Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Why walking and writing wrecked me for ordinary life
Jan 022018
 

 

“Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.”

Unknown

 

The unknown is good for us.

I know, right? It’s terrifying! At times, anyway. Even those of us uncommonly drawn to the Unknown, and its life partner Change, suffer moments of holy f***, what am I doing here! Or, its sadder counterpart, ‘why me?’

Walking and writing are leaders, both. Where one leads us through the landscapes of the physical world around us, the other leads us inwards, through the landscapes of our own interior. The knowable unknown. The unknowable known.

Journeys, either way.

It’s no surprise to me that many (most?) of the people walking The Camino, the mystical road across Spain, are women and most of them around or well over 50. The children gone, their lives shaped by this and other losses, the longing to walk the turning wheel of life becomes greater than the need to ‘stay home’.

It’s equally no surprise that most people who come along to The Write Road writing workshops and courses are women around or well over 50.

Whether walking or writing, the interior is calling.

Whether walking or writing, there are a hundred, a thousand, a million reasons to ignore the call. As many reasons as you need, actually.

And then, whether walking or writing, take one step towards the longing and what you most fear will come to pass: everything changes. It has to. Because, whether walking or writing, you have opened the door to an inner strength that previously held no sway, has been silenced, has been patiently biding its time for the light.

Walking and writing lead us into the unknown and for this reason they change lives. They change lives precisely because in one moment a decision was made to step forward, rather than hold back.

Courage, either way.

And that’s why the unknown is good for us. It makes us brave. It brings us to life. We have no choice but to surrender. No choice but to meet what’s right before us in this moment. No choice but to call on all the personal resources we’ve gathered along the way through this life and put them to work on our own behalf.

Through walking and writing, we meet beauty.

We meet life.

As it is. As we are.

 

Stephanie DaleWritten by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.

Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road is dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.

 January 2, 2018  Tagged with: , , ,  Comments Off on Walking and writing are great acts of courage
Jan 022018
 

“When you are in a car, beautiful places are a moment; when you stop the car, they are a cluster of moments. When you walk, beautiful places are an eternity carved into the soul.”

 

I remember exactly where I was when I wrote that.

I was walking through a backroad in Croatia, heading for the five-kilometre stretch of coastline that was sketched out for Bosnia in a relatively recent peace deal, on pilgrimage with my son (who was mid-way through an epic journey, by foot, from Canterbury to Jerusalem – 7000kms, 16 countries – like I said, epic).

The backroad was blocked to Westerners. That would be us. Only workers with the appropriate paperwork were permitted safe passage through the border. I was all set to turn around and go the long way round to Bosnia’s little stretch of coastline, but my son held his ground. He was, after all, only half way to Jerusalem and an extra hundred kilometres was not in his playbook. Me? I was walking anyway. It didn’t matter where. Besides, I wasn’t up for arguing with authorities in countries with relatively recent peace deals.

My son held his ground and with the help of a woman with good English and a phone we discovered that the locals, pissed at being blocked on a road that had been theirs for millennia, had martialled their tractors and carved a new road up the mountain and down the other side.

And so we did what pilgrims do best – we walked on. It was late afternoon. The mountain was ahead of us, the road flat, surrounded by autumn fields and shimmering waterways lined with reeds and stone houses and the occasional ancient canoe tied to an equally ancient jetty. As we met the mountain road, the dying light lit the stones beneath our feet bright white. And then the moon rose high above the treeline, swollen and full, and lit the fields and the waterways below us with shimmering blues and golds and between the last rays of the sun the silver rays of the moon the whole world bloomed the colour of roses. The walk was steep. The road hard. My legs ached. My shoulders screamed blue murder at the 20kgs on my back. And the world around me bloomed the colour of roses.

Walking and writing. Capturing a heart bursting with the wild moment on a scrap of paper scrunched in my pocket, over and over the words bubbling out in little bursts. Without the walk, there was no writing a world the colour of roses. Without the writing, there would be wonder . . . bereft of the writer’s challenge: finding the words that express something that’s already been said ten thousand thousand thousand times.

Walking and writing. Together, they are sublime.

 

 

Stephanie DaleWritten by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.

Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road and Walk and Write are dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.

 January 2, 2018  Tagged with: ,  Comments Off on Perfect match – why walking, why writing
Jan 022018
 

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ursula K Le Guin

Pilgrimage has taught me many things and chief among them is this salutary lesson: There is no ‘there’.

Twice I’ve set on Very Long Walks – once, 900kms along El Camino, the mystical pilgrim road across Spain from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela (where – disputed fact – the head of St James is buried in the great cathedral built atop sacred pagan ground); and then, two years later, 1500kms across Italy and through the Balkans, Rome to Tirane, the then-broken (and perhaps still broken) capital of Albania.

And twice this lesson has been my saviour and my guide.

There is no ‘there’.

It is as true for the writer as it is for the walker.

There is no ‘there’.

What does this mean?

There is no destination.

There is no destination because the destination is irrelevant if you don’t pick up your foot, right here, where you are now, and put it in front of the other one. And then pick up the next foot and put it down in front of the other one. Repeat ten million million times. Or pick up your pen and write a word, then place another word directly after that one. And so on. Ten thousand thousand times.

Walking and writing are sublime journeys.

Both will transform you for this simple reality alone, the fact of putting one foot in front of the other, one word after another, over and over and over again. Both will disrupt all you think you know about life and your place in it. Both will frustrate and delight; immeasurable, colossal life in your hands.

Both will reward you will the immense satisfaction of the journey complete, a voyage of discovery well-earned and hard-won.

At which point, having marked the moment, you will set out again, your heart aflutter with frustration and delight at the unknowable unknown journey ahead, your eyes on the horizon of another ‘no there’, your heart packed and ready to roll towards the light calling you home. Again.

 

 

Stephanie DaleWritten by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.

Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road is dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.

 January 2, 2018  Tagged with: , , , ,  Comments Off on Lesson #4 of the pilgrim road
Sep 292017
 

Photo courtesy Pixabay

“Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.”

Amelia Earhart

 

There is a calling within you to write. You know it. You long to tend to it. You ignore it.

You are not alone.

In more than three years on The Write Road this I have learned: just about every human being longs to write. (And just about every single one of us needs guidance, encouragement and support to start . . . but that is another story.)

We long to write. With all our heart, we long to write a story of some kind. Whether we want others to read it or not (and most of us do, whether we are ready to admit or not . . . that too is another story), whether we write for ourselves or write to share, the fact is we have stories inside us bursting for release.

And still we hold them back. We deny ourselves our right to write. We deny the world our story. We withhold. And we shrink. And not only do we not grow, we cannot grow.

And yet . . . the soul longs to grow. And no doubt about it, writing will grow us. Writing expands us, leads us places we did or didn’t dream exist, takes us on an excursion into our own interior that will surprise, delight and break our hearts. And still the soul will grow.

Abandoned, however, the soul will haunt us. The longing to write will not leave us alone. No matter where we turn or who we turn to, sometimes soft, sometimes unbearably deep, the incessant nagging will follow along with us. Because the soul longs to grow.

Writing grows us.

Writing grows us because it takes courage to step up and claim our right to write. And it takes a funny sort of confidence to believe we have what it takes to put pen to paper. And it is a sublime act of lunacy to believe others may want to read what we write.

And in the end none of it matters – except that we did it. We wrote.

We wrote for no other reason than the soul was calling us to write.

We celebrated for no other reason than . . . we grew.

We grew and we knew peace.

 

Stephanie DaleWritten by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.

Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road is dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.

 

Walk & Write The Camino

 September 29, 2017  Tagged with: , , , ,  Comments Off on The Soul Longs to Grow – why writing won’t leave you alone until you do it