The Long Walk

For quite some time I have been meaning to write this article. Since as long as I can remember, I have taken a long walk to unwind and let the creative juices flow. When I was younger it was more of a sprint or a rigorous bike ride. As I grew older the overall intensity has declined, just slightly. A nice four or five mile walk can do wonders when it comes to opening up the mind. I am not a neuropsychologist but I know there is something special going on in the human brain when the body is in motion. The long walk has been very influential in my life and here is why…

Growing Up in the Mountains

One horse town does not even begin to describe where I grew up. The high school that was assigned to my parent’s address had a total of 21 students. Yes. A total of 21 students in the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades. It is safe to say they could not field a football team. Fortunately, there were some high schools nearby that had a larger student population. I ended up fulfilling the requirements of a high school diploma at Robbinsville High with 68 other students. As you can imagine, there was not a lot of quality entertainment in this part of the world.

At a young age I realized my mind was a little different. I was not one of those kids that could sit around and stare at the TV. My brain had to be active. More importantly, at the time, my body had to be active as well. This was a time before the Internet. We did not have iPads or Xbox video game systems. The Gameboy was the only “gaming system” and that kept my attention for about 26 seconds.

Although the mountains are sparse in terms of population they are dense in terms of outdoor activities. I grew up beside a whitewater rafting river which allowed me the opportunity to fly fish, mountain bike, hike, kayak, zip line, swim and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. To say I was a kid that “got outside” is an understatement. I spent the majority of my waking hours watching the trout rise for mayflies or riding my Cannondale bike up Winding Stairs road.

Those first 18 years on the earth helped shape my body and my mind. As I write this article, years after leaving that small mountain town I still find that my most creative work starts and ends after being physically active. There are no longer opportunities to grab the Orvis fly rod and catch a trout. It is not possible to walk out the back door and immediately start climbing the Great Smoky Mountains. What is available is a long walk…

Getting Away From It All

In a time with smartphones with email, tablets with browsers and TV’s connected to Twitter and Facebook it is sometimes hard to “turn it off”. I have had my trials and tribulations when it comes to social media addiction. Fortunately, I am very aware of the problems that arise when humans remain sedentary for a lengthy period of time. There is no possible way my body can do it. In fact, after I finish the rough draft of this article I will be hitting the gym on Christmas Eve.

Recently, I removed email and 95% of social media from my phone. I still update Twitter once in a blue moon but that is it. If someone has the desire to contact me they must pick up the phone and call or wait until I am sitting at desktop to respond to email. This has been a huge change in my life; for the better. I was “that guy” that would check his email and social profiles every 20 minutes just to make sure nothing changed. It was an issue that had to be resolved. Unplugging and getting away was one of my best decisions of 2013.

Below is an HDR photo I took while on a long walk. This is my most common long walk as it is right behind my apartment complex.

the-long-walk

Every time I take the trip down this sidewalk I wonder why I don’t do it more. Never is it the case that I return from this walk thinking, “Well, that was a waste of time.” I have a plethora of high dynamic range photos I have taken while on some of these long walks. I have also had some of the best conversations of my life while getting out and enjoying some fresh air. Why not do it more? It is when I feel the most alive!

My Call to Action

It is very easy to get consumed in work. It is even easier to get consumed with work when it follows you around on your phone, tablet or laptop. Getting away and enjoying the finer things in life has helped me open my eyes to what is important. On a daily basis I take a long walk or complete a physical activity. For me, it is crossfit, cardio training and walking around the countryside of North Carolina taking HDR photos. I want to know what you do. How do you get away? Do you sit on the porch and call old friends? Do you throw the ball with the youngest boy? Do you ride the 4wheeler deep into the country? What makes you feel alive?

I would also like to encourage you to write it down. It does not have to be in a blog post. It doesn’t have to be posted online. It can be on a post-it note or in a diary. What I would enjoy more than anything is to have the opportunity to read ways in which you enjoy your long walk. If you happen to publish it online send me a link to jwojdylo@gmail.com or place the link in the comments below. If you did not publish it online please leave a brief message in a comment and I am can promise you it will be read. Maybe it will open the eyes of some other readers as to how to truly get every second out of this life.

A Long Walk I Will Take More in 2014

In 2012 and 2013 I worked very hard to build my social profiles; especially on Google+ and other Google channels. That meant much more work on the computer and less swinging of the golf clubs. Heading into 2014 I have streamlined my business model to allow me to spend much more time on the golf course. One of my “resolutions” is to play two rounds of golf a week at Hasentree Golf Club. This goal be adjusted based on the weather, but, for the most part, I would like to take the long walk of 9 or 18 holes twice a week.

Every time I make the trip to Wake Forest, North Carolina to play a round of golf at Hasentree I find that it is refreshing and eye opening. Very rarely do I take the walk and not enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around me. Along with spending more time playing golf in 2014 I am going to try to snap more HDR photos. This resource will allow you to see what I am up to that particular week or month. Expect to see quite a few HDR photos of Hasentree Golf Club. I am not certain how I am going to get HDR photos with my Nikon D5200 walking the course, but I will find a way.

It will likely be the case that I grab a golf cart at least a few times a month. My Nikon fits perfectly in the “slot” that holds valuables in my golf cart. This will be quite useful on those days when it is a little bit too warm to walk the 3700 yards of the front 9 at Hasentree. That said, the walk will always come first when the weather is not extremely hot or frigid. In a past life I had the rule that any time the temperature was between 55 and 93 degrees I would play golf. I will be interested to see if I can hold up that end of the bargain in 2014. Maybe it is time for me to create a resource documenting my golf game in 2014. Lots of slices and missed opportunities I am certain!

The Long Walk to the Library

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina there is an amazing public library. I spend too much time there. Well, that is not possible, but you know what I mean. There is also a greenway/walkway that leads to the library. Some of my most enjoyable moments in the Chapel Hill Public Library is watching people take the walk along the greenway to get from Franklin Street to the library. I have yet to make this walk but I can assure you it will happen a few times in 2014. The temperatures are still a little bit cold in December and early January but as the weather gets nicer this is a walk that will likely be common for me.

Walking to a library. can you beat that?


13 thoughts on “The Long Walk

  1. Crystal Nadeau

    I find my most creativity happens when I am in or near water…so that means when I shower – the ideas flow! To refresh my soul – it’s the beach/ocean. My daily in the present activity – walking my dogs! Many business problems are solved for me when I’m walking the 45min -1.5hr with my two min pins, Mega & Pixel!

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I too grew up ‘an outside’ child! Flashlight tag at night, cartwheels in a field, sledding thru 10 backyards…laying beside my driveway watching ants and clouds…
    Watching my best girlfriend practice her piano lessons and watching General Hospital for an hour after school!
    Yes, times are changed because of the Internet- and I’m loving the learning / mentoring that is open to me now be aide of it!
    I’m a sponge, throw it at me!
    Merry Christmas!
    Happy New Year!
    Crys

    Reply
    1. Jesse Wojdylo Post author

      First of all, best names for dogs ever! I love Mega & Pixel! Who will forget those days before the interwebz. Camping with your best friends and not having a care in the world. Back when someone had to visit your house if they wanted to talk. Oh, how the times have changed but I really feel as if we are slowly working our way back towards that time.

      Reply
  2. Alex Riecke-Gonzales

    I am totally up for the challenge you have just thrown out Jesse because I could definitely use some separation from my technology. I do have moments of inspiration and they tend to occur anytime I embrace the elements of the outdoors. I am lucky enough to have a massive park two blocks down the street and especially at this time of year (it’s 19 degrees F today!) not many people are willing to go out. I’ll take my crazy pup, Tigger, for a run if I want to just release pent up energy and I’ll take Sandy, my Golden Retriever, for a slow leashless walk when I want to think and appreciate the life that occurs around me. I love walking or running in the cold because the shock and slight sting of the chill in the air simply does something for clarity in thinking.

    It’s really hard to unplug, especially when you’re like us and your monetary livelihood somewhat depends on how plugged in you are. So I could definitely work on unplugging more often and taking those slow walks with Sandy. You’re right, I’ve never come back from one saying, “Well that was a waste of time,” because seeing your usually mopey dog so happy, bouncy, and childish after a half hour with you is priceless in my opinion. I’d call it my New Year’s resolution but then I’d never do it! So I’m simply going to accept the challenge here and now.

    Reply
    1. Jesse Wojdylo Post author

      Enjoy a long walk. I can promise that your monetary gain is not going to be hurt by getting out every once in awhile Alex. Trust me!

      Reply
  3. Pingback: The Long Walk | Online Marketing Resources | Sc...

  4. Lori Tian Sailiata

    I grew up shuttling between Greater Chicagoland, Southernmost Illinois, and Hawaii. For most folks, they get jet-lag just thinking about the geographic and demographic discrepancies. Since it was the wallpaper of my youth, I saw the commonality…between urban Honolulu and Chicago…between Southernmost Illinois and the locals of Hawaii.

    One of the commonalities is the abundance of nature. Chicago and Honolulu face out onto vast bodies of water. They both are bountiful in waterside parks and greenways. It’s much easier to take public transport or simply to hoof it around town. Even easier in my youth.

    Southernmost Illinois has a topography that most would associate with Colorado foothills. The very tip of Illinois is far from the verdant flat plains of the central and norther parts of the state. It is the uppermost reach of the Upper Mississippi Delta and replete with cypress swamps in the lowlands and towering bluffs cut from the flows of the Wabash, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It was in fact prehistoric ocean bed not too long ago. The upward thrust of the New Madrid tectonic plates expose Paleozoic fossils in majestic rock outcroppings. Canyons and caverns honeycomb the woods.

    In contrast, Hawaii has some of the newest geology in the world. The islands drift northwest away from a lava hotspot that spews and heaves creation every second of the day. With hot lava, cool breezes, damp fern forests tangled in vines, body surfing beaches that leave you tangled in seaweed and encrusted in sand…it’s hard not to get inspired beyond myself.

    And no, I still don’t own a TV. But yes, I have a smart phone…at times, it may have me.

    Thank you, Jesse, for giving me the indulgence to tap back into my roots.

    Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. Peace & Blessings to all.

    Reply
  5. Keith

    Merry Christmas Jesse!

    We have had a few great telephone conversations, and I am grateful to know you as a friend. Thanks for this post, the honest truth is, we live in a wonderful world, no matter what corner of earth it is (you and I just happen to live in the best corner!). We often get taken away by phones, laptops, and tablets. Washed away in social media and other sites. Most times it is just a time suck.

    Having said that, I am closing this MacBook and going for a walk down here in FL, where I am for the rest of the week for vacation.

    Reply
  6. Karen

    Lovely! In that someone shares their walk in ways that I’ve explained my Long Walk for 14 yrs. And my sanity is saved. That expression -keep doing the same things & expect different results is insane, right? So true, thank goodness. I keep doing my Long Walk & keep my creative juices flowing as well as physical fitness. Thank you for sharing & validating all your important reasons. Blessings.

    Reply
  7. Arantxa Mateo

    Great article! I absolutely agree with you. There is nothing more important that the physical activity to open your mind, plus a few minutes to cool down and reconnect with your inner you after the physical activity. I also love outdoors. I like running, mountain biking and climbing. I love the beach and the sea (Ocean) and I love swimming in summer. After needing the gym while living in the cold and hot Chicago for 5 years I now try to avoid gyms, so nowadays my “Long Walk” is some Pilates with my dog Luna kissing me and a run with her. I recently posted a picture of her during one of my runs in my G+ profile +Arantxa Mateo. I hope you like it!

    I wish you a Happy New Year!

    Arantxa

    Reply
  8. Dinesh Subramaniam

    Hello Jesse,
    What you’ve written is good food for thought.

    This year, I’ve finally become *more* involved in social media – Twitter and Instagram (other than Facebook and LinkedIn which I’m quite active on), and have plans to dabble in more, like G+ and Pinterest. Hey, being more active on Twitter is what led me to read your article in the first place :). In fact, one of my plans for 2014 was to start blogging. However, reading your post is making me wonder – not if being active in social media is worth it – but instead, how to strike a healthy balance. If you have some thoughts, please share.

    But back to the topic at hand – the Long Walk. I must admit that I don’t engage in very many Long Walks, although I should – sometimes by myelf, sometimes with my nearly-8-year-old, sometimes with my wife, and sometimes, all of us together (we have 2 boys).

    The people who’ve commented talk about workouts, running, doing pilates, mountain biking, swimming, and so on as their “Long Walks”. I started taking piano lessons (I’m 40) in January this year so that I’ll force myself to do something other than work when I get home from the office. I plan on going through the whole classical training rigmarole and have set the Performance Diploma as my target. And since turning 40 in November, I’ve also started going to the gym to “cut the gut”.

    However, I asked myself if the activities listed above – others’ and mine – qualified as “Long Walks”. One can argue that when the mind is quite engaged in an activity, it isn’t quite the same as a Long Walk where your mind is free to roam, and a million different thoughts drift in and out.

    Nevertheless, I’ve become inspired. Thank you for planting the idea in my head.

    Best wishes from Singapore,
    Dinesh

    Reply
  9. Scott Worthington

    I grew up a few decades before you, Jesse. Black and white TV, 3 networks, and a little UHF channel out of Atlanta that aired Monty Python late on Saturday night. Had to choose between that and the Not ready for Prime Time Players on Saturday Night Live. Weekend Update – bringing you the news for a fiftieth of a century. But, now. I am the one digressing.
    The point is – there was little on TV to keep me in the house after school. I didn’t have the luxury of a trout stream in the backyard, but I played basketball at the Gibson’s and Matthews’, baseball in my own backyard (1st and 2nd base were trees and 3rd was a concrete step coming off the screened porch) and football whenever and wherever. We rode bikes everywhere, without pads or helmets, and I’m still alive.
    Family camping trips as well as campouts with the Boy Scouts were both part of my childhood.

    Today, I have 3 dogs. Big dogs. Faith and her two kids Sirus and Nell. My exercise primarily comes from walking them. I’ve gotten old and fat. Couldn’t walk 4 or 5 miles if my life depended on it. I definitely miss recharging my battery in the grandeur of nature. A walk in the woods soothes the spirit and restores the soul.

    Maybe I need to take a cue from you and unplug a bit – focus less on making a living and more on enjoying life?

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Embracing the Fog | On Stranger Clouds

  11. Pingback: Trout Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains | Wojdylo Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *