At hour ten, I snapped out of my flow. I had literally walked more than a marathon at 27 miles. I never knew this is what I needed until that moment I realized this was exactly what I needed.
Before this point, time flew by, yet simultaneously slowed down.
What started as an odd experiment from reading a tweet, later I completely changed my mind and I didn’t want my 12-hour walk to end. What first threw me into delirium without the comfort of my daily life, later become accepted and even appreciated. Without a plan of where I’d go and an Internetless airplane-mode phone, later became a sense of peace and confidence that I already knew where I was going. Going into this I didn’t feel prepared enough, and later I realized that I do have enough knowledge to keep going.
This 12-hour walk is just one step on my right foot and then the next on my left foot. I can take intentional deep breaths and blow out the butterflies. Those brooding feelings nursing in the mind, like the hen nursing chicks under her wings in Kaimuki, can be let go. Any worry that came to me like running out of water or my second toe rubbing a hole into my sock is a thought. It is my choice whether to focus on it or to be in my body and present in this moment.
The day before I had made a list of the big existential questions I desperately want answers to, like where I’ll be next year or what I’ll be known for in this blip of time in the universe. Instead, I realized that I cannot force an epiphany. I need to let go and trust. What even is productive thought after all?
Life isn’t about knowing. It’s never going to be “figured out”. It’s about finding the best way for myself and allowing it to be unique to me. It’s about the daily practice of finding my own path rather than the destination. Morbidly, the destination is death. It is a delusional thought and too much pressure to put on myself as a person to be all-knowing. Knowledge is mere thoughts and neurons firing in my brain. Do I really need to rely on those to make all the sense out of my life? What about the connection to the experience of my body and how I am feeling?
While wandering around the University of Hawaii Manoa campus for hours five and six, I remembered what it felt like to be a student on society’s terms again. I missed walking around on college campuses. They are like a curated space for curiosity to explore alongside others. I felt a sense of belonging to the students uniting together.
Not only did they look more like me as twentysomethings with backpacks scooting around on mopeds and with a pep in their step, but I also yearned for that simpler time in my life. A time when I could merely explore ideas and live without the pressure from society to be successful just yet. I miss the journey of a student.
College is the stage of turning from a child into an adult by removing the training wheels. It was an active exploration of ideas turning into skills into a job and having fun while attempting to mature along the way. What the school of life is about for me is learning to close that gap between my mind and body.
To be a student for forever sounds exhausting, yet exciting, and I couldn’t imagine life any other way.
At hour seven, the joyous sprinkling of mist turned into a downpour in the jungle of Manoa, and I was ready to quit. In a way, I did. I turned around and my fear told me it was time to go find shelter.
A shortcut presented itself when a truck driver offered me a ride home and temptation was inviting me to say yes. It was an aha saying “no” to him because he said it’d be raining most of the day. He was implying I need to go find shelter but I wasn’t going to. Soon after I turned back around and went back up the road on my original path. I was already doused and it was raining wherever I walked so why not traverse the more beautiful path that I originally wanted to explore?
I am proud of that decision to keep going and turn around. I found a swing in the jungle, an even higher lookout from a state park covered with chicken friends, and a trail that made me feel like I was in the Shire hanging out with Bilbo Baggins.
Winding roads are expected in life. A boat sails a zigzag course because winds prevent it from sailing directly toward its destination. Making course corrections make sense since I cannot go straight up a steep mountain, so going back and forth is necessary. Yet, why do I feed the expectation from society that life is linear then? I’d be lying to myself if I ever believe it was all settled and figured out.
I feel embarrassed that I feel the need to have a plan in life to serve as my roadmap, but I’ve found from this that I am always lost. It’s like how Google Maps can automatically reroute me to where I like on a new route instantly. By intentionally getting lost, I love that empowering feeling to admit my lostness of finding my way. Getting found is not what I am seeking. I merely want to be a little bit less lost.
After all of this, what was my return on investment on these 12 hours?
I walked 69,000 steps in one day. The soles of my feet had never walked that far in the past 26 years of existence. Four lessons to leave you with:
- There’s always going to be wandering and getting lost in order to be less lost.
- The exploration is never over, so I will always be like a student.
- My body and mind are stronger together.
- I am patient.
I’d love for you to go on your own 12-hour walk and tell me what observations you make.
(If you are interested in more of the planning that went into this, I created this on Notion.)