How Hiking Inspires my Brain

 

Do you sometimes feel that your brain is overloaded with information and that you need to outsource parts of it in order to function? Some of us hire an assistant or get married to have another person to support us with all the little details modern life entails. Despite smartphones, apps, calendars, productivity seminars and personal optimization, we still have moments where a little error disturbs our manicured perfectionism.

 

Often in other countries and in transition we feel those little errors more. We are pushed out of our programming. Some errors are dangerous, others are just purely stupid, still others cost us a lot of money. Have you ever noticed that decisions taken under stress (or the influence of alcohol) are not the best decisions in your life?

 

I travelled on a funicular the other day and while I paid I was chatting to my mum and also making jokes. I took back my credit card and a receipt. When we arrived on top I thought the receipt would be ticket but it did not fit into the ticket slot of the machine. I saw other people had real tickets. I went to the conductor and told him that I must have forgotten to take our tickets. My mum wasn’t even paying attention. He called the person at the bottom. Somehow, this person could not remember what happened to our tickets.

 

Meanwhile, I was getting angry at myself and tears kept creeping up. I felt like a child of 10 who had made a stupid mistake. The conductor was very friendly and said it wasn’t an issue but I felt so stupid. You might have similar experiences especially when you are new in a country. Your natural ability to function and get things done is interrupted continuously. Being self-reliant and independent is a strength I feel very proud of. I hate it when I am dependent on others (one of the worst experiences for me was being hospitalized even just for four days around 10 years ago.). Interestingly, when I was younger this experience would probably have ruined my mood for the whole day. Here it was a reminder to stay humble and be alert. We were in a different country after all. Even though in South Tyrol almost everyone I met was a German speaker.

 

After hiking away for about 2 km I had forgotten the incident and focused on the surrounding. It was amazing. Beauty all over. I enjoyed light conversation, a cup of coffee and we walked on in a zig zag. Rain did not stop us. We also had a bit of trouble with orientation. I blame it on my inner state of mind. I was seeking direction but took a few turns, detours and sometimes I felt like we were going in a circle. At the end of the hike, we heard a thunderstorm coming up and while I am a big fan of facing your fears, I frankly did not need to sit in an outside chair lift with the prospect of lightning.

 

The afternoon was full of ruins, castles and churches. My mind was opened up like a beer can. I could enjoy the beauty of old buildings and wooden altars from the 14th century. The more I walked over the next two days, the more I felt that baggage dropped, puzzle pieces moved into empty spaces like Jenga stones and my strength developed from inside out. With every new walk, I gained clarity.

 



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