As a writer, I have always struggled with capturing my thoughts and containing them on paper. This is mainly due to my nature addiction. The one thing I cannot give up is time spent outdoors walking, hiking, wayfaring through mountains, along beaches, across valleys and everywhere in-between.
I guess, like the thoughts, stories, and articles that write so lovely in my mind, I too have a hard time being contained. Ill walk miles on end while a symphony of words compose within my mind. Stories of love. Articles about the ocean, sustainability, and our Earth. Life lessons and growth. But like the trees I admire, these words come and pass as I put one foot in front of another.
The other day however, as I was clearing space on my phone, I opened up my memo pad app and read some of what came to mind on a few of those hikes in the Malibu country side. At the time I had just moved from my Island home on Catalina and was living in the city for the first time. It was serious culture shock. During those months, I constantly found myself retreating to whatever trails, dirt roads, beaches, and mountains I could find. My soul hungered for the nature I had spent my life immersed in living on the island. I was nature deprived and this was my way of keeping my wild soul grounded and connected to the natural world. Ill never forget climbing the switchbacks, taking myself from sea level to the top of the majestic Santa Monica Mountains. Almost daily. As I moved my feet faster and faster, some of my most brilliant writing came to fruition. The thoughts would come and I would think…I should be writing this down! But I was in the middle of nowhere, without my tools, so like a walking meditation, the thoughts came and went.
Then one night, actually on Christmas Eve, I was given some game changing advice. I synchronistically ended up spending the evening with an old soul mates family. It wasn't planned but I was a stranger in a strange land spending Christmas alone, and they reached out and invited me in.
That night I ended up having a great conversation with a gentleman who just so happened to be a successful writer for a multitude of magazines and music publications. We talked about our love of writing and the ebb and flow of our productivity and passion. I told him about my struggles of time and place and how I was unable to capture my thoughts when I was miles deep into the trails. All my most genuine and honest work gone with the wind.
Turns out, he could deeply relate. He talked of being stuck in traffic, playing with his kids, or trapped in an elevator when his most brilliant thoughts would come to mind. Then he shared with me a simple solution. It may seem obvious to most this day in age, but it was revolutionary to my simple soul. The freaking memo pad!
While I may not carry a notebook with me, I usually bring my phone along on my adventures. No, not to take selfies, pictures, or to snap chat, but in case of emergency, or if I needed help while I was out there solo for whatever reason. Turns out, I could also use it to help me round up these thoughts of mine. I have always been weird about using my phone while in nature because it always felt strange to me, but I thought if it was a possible solution, why not give it a go. I decided I could use it mindfully, as a tool.
So, I did just that. Wrote things down. Paused on the trail, mid run, even paddling in the ocean. I even began pulling over to the side of the road in my car or on my bike to keep those thoughts and topics from getting away. I started making it a habit. And in turn, it translated into endless blog topics, conversation starters, stories, recipes, and ideas.
That was months ago. In between now and then, l have collected notes everywhere. My memo pad app is miles long. I have journals everywhere, filled with everything from one line statements to pages long articles.
One of my favorite things to do is to scroll back in time and read the thoughts, stories, and ideas that Ive produced. Not only do they sometimes shock me, but they help remind me of who I am now, and who I was then. They provide fuel for future endeavors, further articles, and hold me accountable when I claim to have writers block.
So, if like me, you too find yourself letting your thoughts and writing topics slip away, try this. Maybe its not the memo pad. Maybe you don't mind carrying a small pack that you can tuck some pen and paper into. Whatever you choose, get those thoughts down. See what they turn into. You don't have to do this all the time. Do it only occasionally to preserve that sacred nature time. I personally need to completely disconnect more often than not. But for the times I have documented, it was worth it, and it has paid off. Some of the greatest philosophers and writers in history were also enthusiastic walkers. Combine the two and see what happens.