A funny, possibly even a philosophical question, entered my head at the start of this week: Why do we walk?
Nothing prompted it, I hadn’t seen someone walk funny, or trip up, (which for some reason is always amusing so long as they don’t hurt themselves!). I wasn’t reading anything about travel or watching a TV show with a title like ‘Great Walks of Britain’ (though if this were ever commissioned, I’d happily be the host). I could only conclude it was a ‘God-thing’, so I decided to consider the question further.
We have an insatiable desire as human beings to move from one place to the next. Even if we’re less able, we find other means of locomotion such as a wheelchair or crutches. We don’t ever seem to want to stay in one place for long.
As I thought this through further, I pushed the question into analogy territory and considered how we’re all in a state of transition as we travel along the highway of life. A transition of life stages. We like to identify these transitions: Baby, child, then adult. Even these aren’t enough. As humans (at least in western culture) we insist on generating more transitional phases: Newborn, toddler, child, teenager, youth, young adult and finally the adult, phew! I’m sure if I really wanted I could identify more, such as ‘significant’ birthdays.
Does identifying this moving, this transitioning, give us a sense of accomplishment? A ‘well done us’ for living longer and making it to the next stage? Like some kind of strange computer game where we only have one life, but many levels to complete?
As I write this I’m 42 years old. When I was very young 42 seemed so old, and I could never imagine myself being the age I am now. I remember too that I was always desperate to hit the next life stage. (Yet at the same time life was so unfair! I had to go to school, learn things, do what my parents told me. As I approached my teenage years, it never felt right that I had to tidy the bedroom that I’d messed up!) I thought that when I get to 18 years old, I’d be my own man, able to make my own decisions and deal with the consequences as someone with wisdom and learning. How wrong I was. At 18 I still felt somewhat like a child. Even now, I still don’t quite feel like I’m grown up enough. I look at my three kids, and especially my 12 soon to be 13 years old (that teenage stage) and wonder, how on Earth did I get here and how am I a dad?
Every day is a learning curve, every day presenting new challenges and new wonders. From my initial desire to rush through life, I now find myself wanting to slow it down – realising that I’m on the downhill section of level 6 in the game of Mark Kelly’s life.
I’m learning to try and remember the moments, make them stop as they pass me by so I can take a good look at them. However, I’m still looking to the future, wondering what it holds and with positive expectation anticipating its arrival. There’s watching my children complete their different life stages, curious where, or if, they might they deviate from the well-trodden path of our culture with all its expectations and pressures. For a time we will walk together, and then one day they will go on ahead without me. I just hope that for as long as we journey together on Earth I’m able to be to them a good role-model. To my boys: A good example of a man, a man who shows them how to treat others with respect. To my daughter: Explain to her that she is capable and she can give anything a shot. And so on and so forth.
Back to the question: Why do we walk? Answer: Because God has designed us this way.
He designed us with two feet pointing forward not backwards. He encourages us to look ahead and follow where our eyes go with boldness and courage, in the physical, mental and indeed spiritual. We can glance back to see where we have been, but never for long, we focus primarily on where we’re going. We might stop for the occasional rest, to take in what is happening around us, and then we step once more onto the path, joining with others, and also with Jesus, on a long and exciting walk into eternity.