Stoicism | Walking

The Endless Stream

“Make a list of the activities that are non-dual in nature… Meditation, yoga, creating art, playing, reading for fun, writing, journaling, creating a business for fun. Not fooling yourself, paying attention to yourself. Not taking yourself too seriously. Examining your own thoughts for first principles. Doing activities for you and not the external world,” – Naval Ravikant, on The Tim Ferriss Show Episode #473

I walked the endless stream again Thursday night. By endless stream I mean primarily the rail trail with its endless stream of bicycles rolling past in both directions. I had tried this for the third time since March to take a long walk on the rail trail, and found yet again that it wasn’t the charm but instead the third strike. Like going to a crowded beach you just don’t get any deep thinking done when people are moving past you in close proximity. Sprinkle in a pandemic and the maskless masses become distracting. It’s just not meant to be until the weather turns.

I’ve used this go-to rail trail a few times in recent years to sort through various consequential life chess moves. Like Naval’s list above walking is non-dual, offering a bit of exercise and a chance to meditate while moving. Walking has always been the cork screw that opens the mind, but it sneaks up on you. I don’t generally have eureka moments but often experience slow dawns. I suppose I have a slow-twitch kind of brain that’s built for pondering, not the fast-twitch brain built for the rapid decisions that fighter pilots and gamers have to make. But I think the world needs deep thinking more than it needs gamers.

And that’s the other endless stream we navigate: the endless thoughts that run through our head, all demanding attention. In other years I would take that thought and jot it down in the bullet journal and categorize it somewhere in the Getting Things Done way of emptying your head. In 2020 I categorize less than ever before. I don’t believe this is beneficial. But I ponder more.

“The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

As I walked distractedly on the rail trail, not coming to any revelations, I thought that it encompassed the madness of the last seven months perfectly. An endless stream of distractions coming at you, a jumble of things to sort out in your head, and an out-and-back journey that didn’t really bring you anywhere but back where you started. And yet I was better for having done it. If that analogy holds true then there’s hope for humanity and the earth for having lived through this particular trip around the sun. We’ve all learned a collective lesson about how we treat each other and the planet. We’ve all suffered through an endless stream of setbacks to return again to the beginning and a fresh, more hopeful starting point.. One can hope anyway.

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