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  • Writer's picturecherylmurfin

Walking & Writing the West Highland Way

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Adventures start with an idea.

Last year, I got an idea that took me a thousand miles across Europe, starting with a 500-mile walk across Spain along the ancient Roman road known as the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James. If you are returning to this blog, you walked the road with me, patiently wading through 50 days of mediocre poetry and prose about the journey. The idea that spurred my Camino fell from research which found, simply, that walking (especially outdoors) and traveling abroad significantly increase creativity. At the time I was in the midst of a severe case of writer's block. I needed a creative kick in the pants.

That month-long walk was the start of one of the most creative years of my life, writer-ly and artistically speaking. It inspired me to write every day, return to photography (a passion that I had been ignoring), paint, draw, and sing. Most important, it taught me that I am what do: a writer is someone who writes. An artist is someone who makes art, no matter how others see it. It isn't about being good, it's about saying yes. At the end of my Camino, I considered myself both a writer and an artist -- without shame.

From that idea -- that a long walk might awaken the writer and the creative within --- came this one: If it can happen for me, it can happen for others. This next iteration of A Voice on a Road is about finding out if a long walk (and a few other creativity boosting activities) can enhance a sense of creativity in five other women as we walk and write along100 miles in an 10-day sojourn across the Scottish Highlands.

In the next 20 posts I will be sharing my own writing and ruminations from the West Highland Way along with the writings of the women accompanying me. For myself, I have set the intention of exploring self-love as it relates to more deeply and honestly loving others on this walk. That may or may not come to pass -- it's a hard topic for me -- but that's where I stand as we start out.

We walkers range in age from early 50s to mid-70s. No spring chickens here! We come from a wide range of writing backgrounds from once-in-a-while-postcard-writer to well published. We come with varying levels and types of physical stamina, aches, pains, bad joints. It will be a challenge.

But challenge, I have found, is a springboard for creativity. How else do you get through what you think you cannot? From where do you summon the courage and the strength to keep moving forward?

Each of the participants has taken three creativity measurement tests prior to the start of the walk. They will take them again 4-6 months after we complete this Way. It is my hope -- and the premise of my Masters thesis -- that those tests will show some increase in either objective creativity or in creativity self-assessment.

If it does, well, get ready for your own walk across one of the world's long and/or sacred paths. I hope to eventually lead two to four Writing the Way workshops a year. If you are interested, let me know!

Every day on the Camino de Santiago, a local or a fellow walker will raise their hand, wave, and wish a pilgrim "buen Camino." Loosely translated, this means "good way." It's a way of blessing one on the walk. " In Scotland, the term is "Guid wey." Thank you for following us on this guid way.

This is what I learned on my own long walk. I hope so much that these five women come to feel the same.

You Can

There is no road too long to walk

There is no mountain too high to climb

There is no river too deep to cross

No words you cannot find

No truth you will not see

No self you will not recognize

If you put your feet on the path

If you leave your disbelief at the side of the road

If you determine in your heart that you can

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Oct 03, 2019

Dearest Cheryl, wishing you much love, peace and connection as you walk the West Highland Way. So much beauty and history will surround you, Scotland is soooo beautiful. I’m looking forward to your posts, Gach Durachd ! 💕💕

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