One day, in March of 2016, I got a wild hair idea. That is, I had the odd notion that when I went out for my next walk, I ought to walk backwards. My next thought was that it would look a little odd, and it could be a risky thing to do. Heck, it might even be dangerous, and it did turn out to be dangerous, but more on that later.

Mary K Clark - cartoon Hey there! I’m not recommending walking backwards – it could be dangerous to your health! I do though think there is merit in reading some books from the last page to the first!

Somehow I plucked up my courage almost a year ago and went out for that walk. My plan was to walk backwards for about half the intended time, and then turn around and walk the same path home.

Here’s some of what I learned when walking backwards:

  • Getting odd looks is not unusual.
  • The path ahead isn’t easy to see.
  • I had to be very aware – presence is easy to keep.
  • I had to look forward to move forward – so I kept looking over my shoulder.
  • It can be dangerous crossing streets, and there are obstacles like manhole covers, dips in the road, uneven sidewalks, other people, bicycles and cars.
  • As I looked over my shoulders, my eyes were constantly looking at the road or sidewalk ahead so I’d know what lay ahead, but I also knew there was a bigger picture I was walking towards that wasn’t so easy for me to see.
  • Walking backwards is awkward.

-Arrow copyright IMG_2384 copySoon after beginning the first backwards walk, I began thinking about some changes that had been happening in my life and business. Some of the changes involved loss of community. I’ve been, in a way, lamenting this loss even though I knew it was time to move on. It was pretty clear to me during that walk that it is hard to move forward if I’m metaphorically walking backwards in my life.

When I turned around and walked normally, over the very same path, I noticed:

  • How easy it was to walk and how my feet knew the way.
  • The path was more clearly defined and easier to see.
  • It was easier to make choices – like which street to take and where to turn.
  • I walked with more confidence.
  • I didn’t walk funny anymore.

These two walks turned out to be dangerous – dangerous for that feeling of loss I was experiencing. You see I didn’t want to make it more difficult to navigate the personal or professional moments of my life. I didn’t want my attention to be mainly on “what was” because I’d always be looking at “what is” as if it could trip me up – as if it would be risky even if it weren’t. And, I definitely didn’t want to miss out on new opportunities because I was constantly looking over my shoulder and concerned about stumbling.

The thing is that I can, in any moment, stop and take a look back and then move along – memories and experiences can be precious things.

I can’t believe just about a year has passed since then, and I do walk with more confidence now.

Enjoy the stories and have a playful day,

– Mary

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