Jonathan Hood
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The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  - Lao Tzu

If you know me, you know I'm a pretty fired up guy. I am excited about God, people, and life. When you’re excited it is easy to run. During my rookie days in the CFL, I would get a serious case of the jitters before every game. When the whistle blew signaling the beginning of the game, I would run as fast as I could down field and make a play. All that anxiety took me to an immediate low of exhaustion right after the play.  

As I grew accustomed to the thunder of the crowd and the exciting game day atmosphere, I became more relaxed during the first play and approached it with an excitement and focus that did not overwhelm and exhaust me. I was not only able to make great plays, but made better use of my energy while staying excited. I slowed things down in my mind so that I was not overwhelmed. I couldn’t do it physically on the field, but mentally I slowed things down from a run to a walk. I have since adopted the same pace in my life: I walk through life rather than run.  

Life is busy and can be likened to a race: we run from appointment to appointment, one activity to the next. Sometimes it is ourselves and in other cases it is for others. Some run after money, while others pursue 'busyness' because it is what our peers expect – you aren’t working unless you get 100 emails an hour. 

Racing through life may seem to get tasks finished, or give you an image that you are doing something. But I have found that walking opens your vision, lets your creative juices flow and allows you to enjoy this one precious life we have while still achieving greatness!  

During our honeymoon in June, my wife and I walked. We stayed 5 minutes from the beach and the trip to town was a 7-minute drive or an hour walk. We were on vacation, had nowhere to rush to, and my wife had gotten a new fit bit so she was keen on achieving 10,000 steps a day: 

A few special things happened during our daily walks together. For one, we experienced both times when we said much and times when we said little. The walk gave us time to hold hands and share space with each other. Surprisingly, the combination of her and observing the new environment got me to stop talking! We decided to leave our devices at home and give each other and our environment our full attention. This gave us a chance to really listen to one another, and give each other our undivided attention. It was as if I was the only one with her on the island. And it made me feel special. It also allowed us to really absorb the scenery and what Exuma, Bahamas had to offer. We were literally able to “stop and smell the roses”. It allowed us to really appreciate the moment. When my mind became clear, my creative juices were able to really flow. I came up with ideas and plans that I have implemented since we have been back.  

When you are constantly running, everything around can seem like a blur, and you risk missing out on the beauty that is around you. You may also miss out on what is going on inside of you. Walking rather than running gives you a chance to observe and listen to yourself, your thoughts and feelings. When we work with students at Ahead of the Game we simply walk with them. Our goal is not to “fix” them, so we are in no rush. Rather we take a step by step approach to the journey, and walk with them. Sometimes we are beside them listening and supporting them; other times, we are in front leading them, and in other cases we are behind them pushing them to lead the way. Many times, we are able to open up and share right away, and in other cases it takes time to build a deeper trust. 

For me, getting older made me realize how swiftly time moves. When I was a child, a year seemed like a pretty long time, now a year goes by pretty quickly. I only have one life and I’d rather it not go by in a blur. Good thing that I can take time to enjoy it with a walk!