Lessons from Dad

Lessons from Dad

Long walks are great for a whole bunch of reasons. There are the obvious physical benefits of getting the body moving, particularly in an age when most technology encourages us to do the opposite. A simple walk can also help to clear our minds and relieve us of stress. Walking in nature permits us to reconnect with the real world; the fundamental environment upon which we depend.

Dad liked to walk. He had long, lanky legs and would take long, lanky strides. We bushwalked a lot with Dad when we were kids. Unable to keep up with him, he would disappear up the track in his sturdy brown shoes. We would follow along behind, eventually catching up with him as he photographed the view, a waterfall, or a patch of wildflowers. Dad loved the bush and shared his knowledge of the natural world with us.

Lessons from Dad while walking in the bush

Dad lived his last years with Alzheimer’s. Although his mind was fading, he remained physically active for several years as the disease took its course. He still enjoyed walking, and when I visited I would take him to bushland parks near home. As his condition progressed, Dad lost the ability to remember the past, or to consider the future. His world became the here and now. We would walk beside the river, and Dad would comment on the world around him. The natural environment would animate him and he would speak without prompt or question. Whilst my mind would be racing with thoughts and worries, he would chuckle and say ‘Look at him!’ and point out a plump kookaburra, or pause to examine a bundle of wattle seed pods.

Lessons from Dad while walking in the bush

An overactive, anxious mind has been a central feature of my midlife crisis. When I am walking, I sometimes let my mind wander, and often end up in recurring, stressful and exhausting thought patterns. At these times I try to remember the lesson Dad taught me during those last walks together. Remember to be in the moment, look around rather than within, and focus on the beauty, peace and wonder of the natural world.

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8 thoughts on “Lessons from Dad

  1. Remember when we were walking in the street with Dad and he lunged at that tree and wrapped his arms around it? He hugged that tree for so long I asked if he was ok. He was. I also remember him watching lines of ants with great concentration and fascination. Yep, calming effect of nature is very important in these wierd times!

  2. Hi James,
    what lovely memories to have of your Dad and what good advice he gave you stay well take care

    1. Hi Rosie, yes very fond memories of Dad. Hope you and the family are doing ok during all this upheaval!

  3. Be in the moment… very wise words from your Dad.

    Btw, it’s hard to imagine anyone having a longer lankier stride than you !
    Enjoy today and practice being kind to yourself. X

  4. Enjoying your blog James, and love the words about your dad. Great advice -go for a walk, look at the trees, quieten your mind and live in the moment.
    Stay safe and stay healthy.

    1. Hey Janet! Yes it’s great to find solace in simple things when everything seems so complex. I hope the Fletchers are all doing ok!

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