Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Journey of 1000 miles

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Lao Tzu (604 BC - 531 BC)

The first step marked by blue skies,
not North American but Irish Birch
I must confess my ignorance on this one - I had no idea that this quote came from Lao Tzu, he being  of Chinese philsopher and poet renown. An alternative translation from the Chinese (Bynner 1944) would read as here at your feet a thousand-mile journey have birth. It's an apt saying for all of us taking on new projects, new challenges or setting about making a change in our lives. The first step is taken with the idea in our minds and then if the idea is to come to fruition, feet begin to move step by step forward, onward and onward, inching closer and closer to the goal at the end of the proverbial 1000 mile mark. 

Most of our days here are defined by walking -  walking to the woods, walking up the town, walking around the garden. One of the main reasons I was attracted to this house all those three years ago was its proximity to the woods - a place where a walker could go everyday with a boisterous Holly and always see something new. Or see something that is the same thing yet completely different from a change in perspective depending on my own outlook, or my own frame of mind. So when a call to walkers was issued by a colleague in Chicago to embark on a 1000 mile journey, well of course my interest was piqued. The call comes from Liam Heneghan - ecologist and writer - of DePaul University, Chicago. Liam draws inspiration from the walking of Robert Llyod Praeger. Prager (1865-1953) - for those outside of Ireland - was the veritable godfather of all Irish naturalists and an inspiration to all of us who passed through the Botany Departments of Irish Universities since the 1950s.  You can read all about him in Liam's article. Liam's call is to all interested in walking and those with a keen naturalist's eye - no expertise or qualifications necessary. The call is to walk in the spirit of Praeger in your chosen area - it can be urban or rural or somewhere in between - and marvel at the small things you might otherwise have overlooked in a less attentive mode. There is already a growing community of walkers that can be followed under the #1000UrbanMiles on Twitter. 

Through a portal of Hazel
For our part, it will be a matter of walking where we can, when we can. For the most part it will be Alannah, Holly and myself but I do hope to rope others in along the way. We consciously became part of the #1000UrbanMiles community last Tuesday, and in the interest of accuracy I have added the #1000IrishMiles to make a clear distinction between the urban streets of Chicago and greater USA cities and the highways and byways of my own Irish countryside. I confess that I am no Praeger and I don't find myself  stopping to identify every last moss and liverwort as I go, despite my great training under the UCD Botany and Zoology Departments (when they existed back somewhere in the 1990s). But I do appreciate everything I see, and I hope to meet others along the way that can point out the more subtle minutia of interest that my macro lens overlooks. And 1000 miles is nothing really - nothing over a year. And walking is such a transformative process, beta brainwaves turning into alpha brainwaves and all that stuff. That is of course once you remember to switch the mobile device off so the ringtones don't upset the perfect wave forms. 

Now if we were to run it, well that would be another story altogether....

No comments:

Post a Comment