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Bushwalking and Writing, are they Parallel Paths?

Image: Dam in the Perth Hills, author's photo

Two of my favourite pastimes, bushwalking and writing are seemingly disparate activities, one involving physical exertion; the other is a cerebral pursuit. However, in my experience, these two activities reveal striking similarities that may be overlooked.

Image: A writer hard at work (Source Pixaby. freestock)

Bushwalking, also referred to as tramping or long-distance hiking, depending on where you come from, and writing require dedication, an intimate connection to your surroundings and perhaps most similarly, perseverance. I believe they are complementary pursuits.

Bushwalking and writing both offer individuals an opportunity for solitude and self-reflection. When embarking on a long, multi-day walk, one quickly leaves behind the distractions of daily life and enters a state of focused introspection. Similarly, writing requires seclusion to allow the writer to delve into their thoughts and emotions. This solitude fosters a deeper understanding of oneself in both activities, allowing for personal growth and insight.

Image: Bibbulman Track near Collie, author's photo

Both writing and long-distance walking demonstrate a rhythm that facilitates a state of flow. When walking, the repetitive motion of putting one foot in front of the other creates a cadence, allowing thoughts to flow freely. Similarly, writers experience a flow state when the words effortlessly pour onto the page, as their thoughts and ideas seamlessly connect.

Both long-distance walking and writing encourage individuals to observe the world around them, paying attention to the minutiae of life. When walking, one becomes attuned to the changing landscapes, the subtle sounds, and the intricate details that often go unnoticed. It is too easy not to see things in other forms of transport that rush past so quickly. Likewise, writers are keen observers who capture the nuances of human behaviour, the beauty of nature, and the complexities of emotions in their words. The ability to keenly observe, translate and relate these observations into prose is a common skill in walking and writing.

Photo: A week-long bushwalk in progress, author's photo

Long-distance walking and writing are inherently journeys with a clear beginning but with an end that can appear uncertain. In both cases, the process is almost as important as the destination. The physical acts of walking and writing become metaphors for the more significant journey through life. Each step taken on a long walk represents progress, just as each word or sentence written signifies progress in the creative process. Walking and writing also require a willingness to test yourself and to embrace failure as part of the process.

Both activities have the power to heal, transform, and inspire. Walking allows individuals to release stress, find solace in nature, and gain a renewed perspective. The simplicity of carrying everything you need on your back, and finding water and shelter along the way, reduce those moments to a clear essence of what is required to survive. Writing also acts as a cathartic outlet, enabling individuals to express deep thoughts, emotions and beliefs. I particularly find the power of fiction cathartic. It is possible to exaggerate or highlight issues that might otherwise rest below the surface.

Image: Writer's Fuel, author's photo.

Bushwalking and creative writing, despite their apparent differences, share a profound connection. Both activities offer solitude, self-reflection, a rhythm of flow, keen observation, and the potential for transformation. Both create a similar rush of endorphins when a milestone, waypoint or chapter is successfully completed.

Image: A nearly missed echidna on the Bibbulman Track near Dwellingup, author's photo

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