A Walk Across Iowa on the Old Lincoln Highway: Day #9
As I walked along today, amidst my reflections I continued to hear my friend, Jim Newby’s, words echo in my memory: “Mark, all we have are choices.” I have been thinking about the power and importance of making choices for our lives. We do, however, have to be awake to make choices and not simply be operating on autopilot. Being awake/aware is the key… how does one stay mindful moment by moment? Do you feel that you make choices day by day… or are you simply reacting to cues and triggers around you each day? When I get tired and then get grumpy toward others, I can have a ready excuse (“I walked 27 miles today”) as if that was adequate… but, perhaps, my choice should be to take some time to retreat and take care of myself if I feel that I am unable to make moment-by-moment healthy and caring choices in my interactions with others.
I can remember some challenging times in my own life… where I chose to keep putting one foot out in front of the next. There were times when such tenacity kept me going during my doctoral program. There have been moments in which I have experienced that on this journey across Iowa… taking another step was a choice.
We often wish that we could have a sense that our decisions could be perfect… but it is likely that, especially with life’s big determinations, there is often a sense of a dilemma in making a choice. Are there perfect choices or simply the best or optimal choices? It appears to me that we are often confronted with imperfect solutions—the challenge of making decisions based upon what we know at the time. Maybe our hearts are full of good intentions (though we may even have some mixed motivations at times if we are honest) or we might get conflicting advice from different people about what the right decision should be.
Yet there is something powerful about the freedom of making choices… and not sleepwalking through life… of making determinations and feeling the sense of responsibility. Grace and forgiveness are also part of the journey… when our choices turn out to not have been optimal or were even detrimental to ourselves or to others around us. Staying aware, however, allows us the best possibility to be liberated to choose how we respond or what happens next in our lives.
I had so much else to say for tonight’s blog from my day’s reflections… but those insights don’t seem to be resurfacing… perhaps it is my fatigue or perhaps this is all that needs to be shared tonight. I would close with this thought: I believe that nurturing gratitude in our lives is a choice—a significant and powerful choice that transforms our lives… and, you know what, I have a hunch that I will choose to write more about gratitude before this blog comes to a close!
Did you know that my journey on the Lincoln Highway today gave me the privilege of walking across two bridges—one for the Des Moines River and one for the Raccoon River? (Trivia question: and where do these two rivers converge? What significant structure is at the intersection of these two rivers?)
P.S. I am now up to 13 LH markers (you know, placed by the Boy Scouts in 1928) as I walked by three today in Ogden, Grand Junction, and Jefferson (right next to the carillon tower).
Today I met Leon, the owner and operator of the Chit Chat Café in downtown Ogden. He took my order, cooked my order, and brought my order to the table… and his eggs, hash browns, crispy bacon, and wheat toast kept me going. Leon talked about the challenges of keeping a small town café going… he is looking to sell his place – or close it down if he is unable to sell it. All the best, Leon!
Today I learned that we are getting close to the $10,000 goal for the Counseling Assistance Fund. Thank you to everyone who has contributed toward this support for the uninsured, underinsured, and those with inadequate mental health coverage.
Today I am grateful for my clients… those with whom I have worked over the years and those with whom I will resume work when I return to the Center on June 1st. I have had the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of clients… but all of them with values, gifts, strengths, passions, talents, etc… and they have taught me so much about life! In regard to the emphases of my walk (raising awareness regarding “men and mental health” and raising donations for the Counseling Assistance Fund), when I think of how men may often have difficulties admitting to feeling overwhelmed and difficulties requesting help, I am bolstered by the many men with whom I have worked who are courageous, caring, and committed to improving the quality of their lives and the people they love!
For more information and more posts, please see Mark’s homepage: dmpcc.org/WalkwithMark
Everyone is invited to “Walk with Mark” by helping him reach his goal to support quality mental health services for boys and men. Supporting his 331-mile trek is easy as 1-2-3:
- Walk with Mark via his blog on the Center’s website or Facebook page.
- Walk with Mark by joining him for part of his itinerary.
- Walk with Mark with a donation to the Center for the counseling assistance fund.