Trusting The Trail - Doug Neill - Portland City Skyline

Learning To Trust The Trail

I walked 18 miles yesterday.

That’s above average, but still indicative of my love for getting around on my own two feet.

After a morning work session at home, I left my apartment in southeast Portland at around 11:00am and started meandering toward the northwest part of the city, crossing the Willamette River, through downtown, with the specific destination of Forest Park in mind – the webbed network of trails that span a total of 70 miles.

Trusting The Trail - Doug Neill - Forest Park - Portland Oregon

On my way to that expansive park I stopped at cafes, coffee shops, and park benches to get some work done.

I’ve found no better way to spend my work-week afternoons: hour-long work sessions punctuated by long walks from one place to the next.

To have actually made it all the way to Forest Park and be able to spend a few hours walking amongst the trees was a bonus.

I carried with me my laptop, a book (Rise by Sarah Lewis), and a notebook.

During the hike in Forest Park I pulled out the book a few times, the notebook many, and the laptop never.

Within the notebook I capture new ideas, mostly with words but sometimes with a few diagrams or sketches added to the mix.

I also write first drafts of posts like this one that might eventually make its way online.

I’m even starting to give myself the freedom to try my hand at writing poetry and music – a newer interest that I hope to develop over time.

The larger notebook that I took on this particular walk gave me more space than the pocket notebook that I’ve dubbed my walking journal. With the larger notebook I have the freedom and the space to explore, and that’s often what I need when I’m hiking through a forest because that’s about the only time my mind is able to escape the noise of the city and the stresses that come with it.

In that space and that state of mind a different version of the world and a different version of my current and future self start to take shape.

Potential solutions to my current problems (person, interpersonal, and professional) arise in bounds, and I write those down.

The trail, combined with my slow but steady gait, sparks ideas for new videos to make, new sketchnotes to create, and new essays to write, and so I write those down.

A more healthy and hopeful internal dialogue arises, and in the hopes of not losing it when the pressures of society return, I write it down.

I’m trying to trust the voice and the self that emerges from those long walks in the woods.

I’m trying to trust the trail and what it teaches me.