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The Roving Sportsman… Take a Hike!

Just last week, the sweltering heat and high humidity caused real health concerns about spending time outdoors. Many folks, both young and old, were well advised to limit their outdoor activities and avoid potentially dangerous weather conditions. Fortunately, the streak of unbearable weather seems to have been broken, and we can now return to relatively normal outdoor work and play.

Every morning, as I begin the day, I enjoy my mug of coffee or tea and read the day’s entry in a book entitled The Daily Stoic, which contains 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living. Thoughts and insights from some of the early philosophers, such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus, are presented for you to contemplate and perhaps adopt in the pursuit of becoming the best person you can be. It is a book I highly recommend. A recent passage, “Take a Hike,” hit home because it went into detail about something I have done myself and advised others to do over the years.

The Roman philosopher Seneca wrote in On Tranquility of Mind that, “We should take wandering outdoor walks so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.” That day’s passage went on to explain the following:

In a notoriously loud city like Rome, getting much peace and quiet was impossible. The noise of wagons, the shouting of vendors, and the hammering of a blacksmith filled the streets with piercing violence (to say nothing of the putrid smells of a city with poor sewage and sanitation). So philosophers went on many walks — to get where they needed to go, clear their heads, and get fresh air.

Throughout the ages, philosophers, writers, poets, and thinkers have found that walking offers an additional benefit — time and space for better work. As the philosopher Nietzsche would say later, “It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.”

With that in mind, and when the weather conditions allow it to be safe to do so, make sure you take a walk! Especially in the future, when you get stressed or overwhelmed, take a walk. When you have a tough problem to solve or a difficult decision to make, take a walk. When you want to be creative, take a walk. When you need to just get some air, take a walk. When you have a phone call to make, take a walk. When you need to get some exercise, take a walk. When you have a meeting or a friend over, take a walk together. Are you getting the picture?

Today’s world is one that, unfortunately, is filled with stress, anxiety, and an ever-increasing amount of divisiveness that is fostered and exaggerated by the politics of the day. One of the simplest and most effective ways to relieve the stress and anxiety is to take a walk, and if time permits, go further by taking a hike! In those times when emotions are running high, or you just can’t find the answer to a nagging question, or you have simply had enough of the daily dose of divisive political bologna, take a walk — and better yet, take a hike.

Taking a walk or a hike will allow you to nourish yourself and your mind and present the best opportunity to solve your problems along the way or come to grips with whatever you are dealing with at the time. Need a suggestion or two as to where to take a walk or go for a hike?

Let’s look into that next time…