Walking in New Boots

This walk was about breaking in new walking boots. My old boots are still the comfiest footwear my feet have been blessed with, but they have the waterproofing properties of a sieve, even wet grass leads to soggy socks.  I bought my faithful old Merrells in a sale, their replacements are not in the same technical league but still had promising reviews. The proof, of course, is in the walking.

I have experienced many adventures with my Merrells.  They have touched the remote ground I had sought to explore.  Taken me on my first of several wild camping trips.  We have even fallen in a bog together.  There is sentiment for the journeys we have shared. These boots saw my confidence grow and their deterioration mirrored my recent loss of courage.

New boots are like the first page in a fresh diary. You do not yet know whether the future will be smooth or ouchy. You treasure the memories made, let go of what is no longer meaningful and commit to putting that first, newly covered foot forward, with good intention and spirit.

I walked upstream following the River Plym.  Some of my attention was analysing the fit and feel of the new boots. They were stiff and rigid; it would take time for us to mould together.  It was impossible to know how this would work out.   On my last walk I had slipped and nosedived into wet mud, so I was reassured by their firm grip over the variable terrain.  

The ground was testament to the dry sweltering summer, allowing me to stay closer to the river than was usual. My eyes absorbed the natural beauty, the lull of the river vibrated into my being. I was following my nose in the general direction of travel, simply content to be moving through the serene landscape. As I approached the point where I had planned to cross the Plym and head up to Legis Tor. I had a change of heart.

Not long after I last posted (some time ago now), the catalytic converter was stolen from my car while I was out walking on the moor. Since this time, anxiety has haunted me, particularly when I have braved a walk on the moor. Mostly I can see it for what it is, but it has made something I love laboursome and exhausting. As anyone who knows anxiety will understand, it can be testing to try to establish what fears are realistic in a sea of trepidation and uncertainty.

Lately, any prospect of change has instigated a hive of mental activity. The absence now of any apprehension was unexpected.  No protesting thoughts came to mind, there was complete silence. Astonished, I accepted the peace with a smile of relief. A sense of freedom was being realised. I felt like a child, happy to go with the flow, my heart open to wonderment. I proceeded to amble along the riverbank until wet ground encouraged a detour.

Further upstream at a ford, I did decide to cross to the opposite side of the Plym, relishing the necessity to paddle. Once across, I rested on the grassy bank. Anxiety had made life appear like an adversarial force, to be approached with caution. This walk was dissolving my guard. Like being reacquainted with an old friend, there was that familiar, nurturing presence, I associate with the moor. I was reminded of how it inspires a sense of belonging that transcends time and space. A foundation that fosters self-belief and trust in the process of life.

My walk resumed in the same ilk, reuniting me with an inner strength I had forgotten. I did return via Legis Tor.  My legs were starting to ache and weaken by this point, but with Brisworthy stone circle visible on the adjacent hillside, a playful eagerness urged me on. There is something enchanting about these prehistoric sites, hinting to the mysterious ways of our ancestors.

For nostalgia, I crossed back over the Plym in the same spot my Merrells first encountered a river crossing. My new boots had already experienced their first dunking when I crossed Legis Lake to reach the stone circle, watched on by cows. There was satisfaction in the dry socks my new boots had secured.

I took a final pause in a special place and treated my tired feet to a refreshing paddle, before covering the short distance back to the car. The cooling sensation was so pleasurable, I was persuaded once more to take an ill prepared dip in this alluring section of the river.  It was in many ways a celebration of the freedom evoked by this walk.  In pants and vest, I indulged in the healing magic of nature.

This walk may have started purely as a plan to try out my new boots, yet what transpired was a new beginning of greater significance. In our hearts there is an inner warrior, as old as time, with gentle fortitude and the wisdom of our connection to the whole. We may not always be conscious of its presence, but it is part of what we are. It is the part of us that seeks out adventure and new experiences, to help us learn about who we are. This inner force prompts us to recognise we are alive and part of something beyond our conception.

So, whilst my intention for this walk was to break in new boots, curiously fear was also being broken, revealing the courage within.

New boots are like the first page in a fresh diary, promising adventures yet to be lived.


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