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The Happy Wanderer

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Just as in the opening lyrics of the popular song, I love to go a-wandering. I always have! Some may argue that this is just a whimsical way of saying that I like to walk! But to wander (according to the Oxford dictionary) is to move in a leisurely or aimless way.

Growing up, "Let's go out for a wander" was a common suggestion in our household. In retrospect, it was a very clever idea on my parents' behalf, as it kept four children occupied for several hours free of charge! Living on the edge of a National Park, we would head into the nearby forest, circumnavigating lakes, or climbing mountains. The highlight was always the half-way point where we would stop and share (yes share) a chocolate bar (and it wasn't even a king size)! We would run and climb, throw rocks and sticks into the water, and more often than not get lost! My father becoming famous for his short cuts that were anything but short!

In my twenties, when I left the welsh hills for the concrete jungle of the city of London, the absence of mountain paths did not hinder my wandering. My friends and I would meander through the markets of East London and along the Thames; perusing the produce for sale, watching the tourists mingle amongst the locals, and spotting the occasional celebrity. While exploring the city was fun, this time of wandering was also cathartic. As university students, we would discuss our apprehension over upcoming assignment deadlines and exams, ponder our future careers, and analyze our love lives in minute detail. We would return feeling uplifted.

By the time I turned thirty, I was in a very focused and driven phase of my life and this was reflected in my wandering excursions. My pace was faster, as I ran long distances along the shores of Lake Ontario in the freezing temperatures of a Canadian winter. Returning home with sore muscles and frozen toes!

Today, I wander along a beautiful stretch of unspoiled beach that I often hear visitors refer to as 'paradise' but I'm lucky enough to call "home." I look down at my bare feet and I am grateful for how they have carried me over grass, rocks, pavement, gravel, and now sand. I think about all that I have seen and the people who have shared these adventures with me. Yes, there has been a lot of change but the blue sky that extends above my head is the same sky that has always been.

So wherever you may be today, I encourage you to wander. In our goal-driven society, we have lost the joy to be found in just going out for a walk for the sake of going for a walk. We feel that we have to create a purpose for our outing... "I'll pick up some milk on my way by the corner store"... "I need to squeeze in my 10,000 steps today"... "the kids/dog need to let off some steam." These are all valid reasons but don't feel like you need to create them. Just go! Go alone, with a friend, or family member. There is no need to go far or for a long time. No special equipment required. It won't cost you a penny. No one will be judging your technique or performance. So just go! Who knows you may discover something new about your surroundings. You may discover something new about yourself. You might even feel more energized or a little fitter. What could be better for your mind, body, and soul!

This post originally appeared on the authors personal blog Cool Wet Grass.