I Went For a Walk This Morning And What Happened Next Taught Me a Valuable Lesson

Today started off like any other day. I got up, got showered, made my coffee, and headed out the door to start my favorite activity of the day. I recently started walking to prove to myself that I had control over one of the most important parts of my life, my own health

As I set out for my morning walk, I don't have any specific health metrics in mind like the time or the distance that I walked. In fact, I don’t even listen to music so I can hear the birds (and sometimes the sound of cows and other wild critters). I’ve even set a rule that I can only carry my mobile phone to take pictures like the ones I use here. Ultimately, each step takes me closer to one, super important objective of my daily walk… the windmill.

 

 

There is an old windmill out in a farm pasture that I can see off in the distance during my daily walk. With each step, I occasionally notice things like leaves swaying in the wind, the birds singing around me, the rise and fall of the road, the smell of the honeysuckle along with lots of other things, but I always think about that windmill. Today, however, was different. As each step brought me closer to my beloved windmill, THEY suddenly appeared. The roadkill cleanup crew.

 

 

 

Okay, so you’re probably thinking yeah right Greg they're just buzzards and I’m pretty sure you’ve seen them like a million times. While that’s true, what happens next caused me to pause and wonder “what just happened?” You see, they showed up shortly before I reached the crest of the hill where I could see the windmill. As I got closer to the buzzards, I started thinking “I wonder what they had found? How many of them are there?

How close I can get before they fly away?” and the thoughts went on and on. Before I knew it, I was so wrapped up in thinking about these buzzards that I walked over the hill and past the point where I could see my windmill. I was so wrapped up in the distraction that I completely missed the point of my mission. I kinda laughed at myself and realized the errors of my way but knew I would have another opportunity to see my windmill on my way back home so I wasn’t too concerned. At the halfway point of my walk, I finally make it to the point where I turn around and begin my journey home. Once again my “happy thought” windmill enters my mind. No way I’m gonna miss it this time. Okay, as you probably guessed, never say never.

Now I start to notice all the pieces of trash that had been carelessly tossed out a car window and now litter my country paradise. I start to think about bringing a trash bag with me next time, buying a nice pair of those pick-up tongs so that I don’t have to touch the trash or even bend over and how long it will probably take me to pick up all the trash that I see. As my mind raced on how to save the environment and make the world a better place, yep, I zipped right past the viewing point of my windmill again.  It was at that moment that it dawned on me. I had allowed irrelevant things, and the junk around me to distract from the one thing that always makes me happy. I robbed myself of the goodness that was all around me and the joy that I feel when I achieve the simple goal of seeing my windmill. The more I thought about it, the more I realize this happens to a lot of us in our daily lives. I either start the day with a positive focus in mind and stay the course until I achieve what I set out to do or I allow mindless distractions to waste my time, my energy, and the feeling of achievement because I did not accomplish the things that I promised myself or others I would do.

As simple as this story sounds, it changed the way I think. Given all that’s going on in the world today, I am reminded that every day, every minute, is about choices. I have the opportunity to choose what I think. I have an opportunity to choose what I do and don’t do. I can develop the self-discipline required to pursue goodness and avoid distractions that are meaningless and suck the joy out of life. Goodness exists all around us but it is our choice to relentlessly pursue it or let the buzzards and trash of life cause us to miss our windmills.

As a holocaust survivor, Dr. Viktor E. Frankl recounted in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

Always remember.

It’s your life, your way, every day.

Go be awesome!

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