A Web Of Walking

A fellow friend and walker, many miles and oceans away, that I’ve never met in person sent me a little note upon hearing that I was to embark on a walking pilgrimage. It said,

“When you walk your own heart’s path, you inspire countless others to walk their own too, thank you.”

So simple and yet it struck a hearts cord with me, as this is exactly what I’ve been experimenting with in creating Wild Dream Walks. With each walk, each event, each call to service, we are finding ways for us all to bring what our hearts know to be true to the world, together. In every hug given and smile shared I see hope, in every walk I watch utter strangers connect in micro-moments of love and friendship, and in each act of service I see everyday people become the leaders they didn’t know they were.

And, over the past 4 months I’ve been personally experimenting with running Wild Dream Walks as my full-time gig within the gift economy (although many of us call it a gift ecology because of it’s ties to nature). In the past four months I’ve personally walked with close to 1000 people, and per my iphone’s data collection, around 130 miles, and, something I don’t tell many, gifted most of my time to many individuals and organizations who have big dreams of a more deeply connected world. The journey has been as much internal as external. As my small team and I have worked to design Wild Dream Walks into one that spreads love, joy and friendship organically, I’ve also had to work personally on my own giving and receiving of love, joy and friendship. I’ve learned a lot, collected many data points, pushed edges I didn’t even know I had, sped up too the point of almost burning my house down, and sat for many hours under trees in shear gratitude that St. Francis of Assisi was right, in giving I actually have received more than I ever could have imagined.

Offering

Statue at Denver Botanic Gardens. “One can’t know themselves until they wait, until they listen.”

When I started this grand experiment on January 1st, I told myself and those that asked, “If by January 20th I don’t know how to pay my February house payment then I’ll go to plan B and apply for a job at Trader Joe’s“.  That day came and went, as did February 20th, March 20th and tomorrow April 20th. There have been less than a handful of day’s where my bank account has gone down to $15 and I thought I would have to choose between getting a meal or putting gas in my car, but you know, that happened when I had what most people call a real job too. Not only that, I never ended up having to choose, as suddenly a friend, and sometimes even a stranger, would offer a meal or a ride. The path has been one of many serendipities and I’ve always had every one of my needs met, monetarily and spiritually. Learning to trust this new way of being has been the biggest learning lesson in this experiment and this is at the crux of the month long pilgrimage I am about to embark upon.

Beginnings
A month or so ago I felt my heart call, something I would have never listened to just three short years ago. I sat with the call for many days, feeling the need to keep it secret, until I had figured out all my plans. Only, this notion of figuring it all out before sharing it, is much like keeping your birthday wish a secret when you blow out the candles, it doesn’t work and is an action in direct conflict with what we practice on every single Dream Walk. As many in the Dream Walk collective have learned, and even I have to relearn at times, when you share a dream, any dream, with someone you are actually exercising your muscles of courage, hope, connection, and creativity, and even empathy, which make those things that much stronger when your heart calls you into action with a dream, big or small. So I began to share this call to walk with friends and strangers alike, knowing that the dream would shift as I shared it and reflecting on people’s reactions to help understand what my heart really wanted from this experience. Over a months time I shared several versions, first that I would be walking from Ft. Collins to Pueblo Colorado, then, extending it another 200 miles to Chimayo, New Mexico. Finally, getting to what the pilgrimage is now, that of creating a base camp in Chimayo and launching out and returning in 31 different directions from May 1-31st, 2015. This latter way creating a walking web, rather than a straight line, and connecting me to one place deeply rather than many places shortly. As I shared my dream with the world I realized that walking 409 miles was not something I wanted to do right now, that the physical nature and design of a straight line walk would distract me from the spiritual questions I was wanting to ask myself at the height of my current life experiments. Those questions being,

  • Do I need my backup plans anymore or shall I continue down the path of Giftivism with no exit strategy?
  • What have I learned and how will that lead to what is next, personally and organizationally?
  • How can I open my heart even more, how best can I serve?
  • And, the ever eternal question, who am I and who am I to be, going forward?

I may come back with answers, I may not. I might even come back with more questions. However, the second I chose to ponder these questions in silence and solace, sans technology, from one distinct location, my heart felt peace. I also know that I am not used to silence, that I gather energy from connection. So I’ve been asking myself how I could stay connected while still staying true to my very unusual request of walking with nature as my friend. True to form, the answer came from my 6 year old niece who asked if I would write to her while I was away. This little butterfly of a child does not take no for an answer, so I’ve started to gather stationary, envelopes and stamps. Not only that I’ve given this letter writing option to many people that have asked how they can follow me during my journey, including an entire class of 2nd graders, here in Denver. The word “following” was asked in the form of blogging and Facebooking, I see this as proof to the infiltration of technology in creating connection and turning it into transaction. I will not be blogging or posting to Facebook, in fact I will only be turning my cell phone on once a week to check-in with my parents. I will lovingly write you a letter if you forward me your address via this form. I’ll also be creating other ways of connecting, however I’m going to leave that up to the present moment while weaving a web of love in and around Chimayo.

Nothing is Everything

I’d also like to pause for a moment to say thank you for the outpouring of support for what my logical brain thinks is a month of doing nothing (yet, my heart know’s better as nothing actually meaning everything in this instance). From borrowed items such as a camping stove to gifts such as a tree hammock, to anonymous notes and gifts from fellow pilgrims I am, once again, overflowing with gratitude for the support of my family, walking & dreaming communities, noble friends, and many strangers. I’m also grateful for those pilgrims that have come before me, some that I know through their words and others I know personally, Thoreau, Peace Pilgrim, Nipun & Guri, and Jonathon to name just a few. My noble friend was right, following your heart’s path has allowed me to follow my own, thank you. I must also send thanks to the Dream Walk community, that grows daily, especially to Lynn, Dawn, Lisa, Lisa, Sarah, William, Amy, and Natalie. Some will be leading our weekly and monthly Dream Walks in Denver while the others continue to walk the path of their dreams and in so doing, pave a path for others.

With many smiles and thoughts of love,

Nicole

Here’s the form to creatively stay connected. It will  be checked up until April 27th:

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