Did you know that one of the best ways to have a great conversation with someone you care about is to go for a walk together? There is something non-threatening yet intimate about a walk which allows you to share openly. I teach this when I do communications training but last night I discovered something else wonderful about leisurely walks. It gives me time to smile at the little things.
So it was for my friend and I last night as we strolled along the beach. Each of us is having our fair share of trouble these days and there are moments it becomes overwhelming but for three hours we were able to consider our problems together but were also able to enjoy an absolutely glorious summer evening. We laughed, we worried. We pondered, we paddled. Somehow after it was all done it was easier to face our realities and it wasn’t because we solved anything but rather it is because we took some time to enjoy some little things that made us smile.
As we walked we took time to point out things about our past that neither of us knew before. I showed her where my first great love lived during the summer and where I played as a child. She told me about summers along the beach with her grandparents. We smiled.
We walked looking toward our feet. She was collecting the bones from the sheep head and I was gathering beach glass. Strange how each of us could look right at what the other was collecting and not see it at first but as we talked and walked each of us began to see through the eyes of the other and could see both things. I think there is a lesson in communication in there.
At one point I stopped in my tracks because there was a perfect little footprint in the sand and it made me smile. All sorts of sweet memories about my own children playing on the beach flooded my brain and the troubles vanished as a huge smile took over from my eyes to my heart and back to my lips.
A little further down the beach, we met the little girl who belonged to the footprint and both of our hearts found joy as she continued to make footprints and laugh, with no care for the weight of the world which made our feet sink deep into the sand. Her laughter was as light as her step and she lifted our souls with each step. Just for that sweet moment, our hearts floated with her.
We also watched ducks feeding near the shore and caught a glimpse of a subtle sunset over the water. Then we went for a coffee and waited for darkness to settle in. With swimsuits on and towels at the ready for our retreat, we waded into the warm summer water of the lake.
All the time we talked. This wasn’t about exercise, or swimming but rather about sharing while we let our cares wash away. Once again we felt light and buoyant. Out troubles had not vanished and would be just as big when we returned home but looking at the stars together, taking a look beyond the boundaries of pain and circumstance, gazing into the milky way and speculating about what is being poured out of the big dipper gave all the pain of life a moment of reprieve and allowed us to consider hope.