Carolyn Affleck

Carolyn AffleckEver since I can remember, I've enjoyed walking. I love how absorbed I can become in my surroundings, no matter where - crowded city street, quiet forest trail, lonely highway or exotic garden path. I treasure the sense of connection, renewed creativity and peace of mind that walking brings. Sometimes when I walk, I catch myself grinning, and then wonder if people think I’m a little nutty. But witnessing a smile on a stranger’s face has many a time brightened my disposition. So I keep on smiling, and keep on walking.

I think that travelling in vehicles puts us at a distance from things and people. Cars give us power- literally, and in the psychological sense, that we are not entitled to. It is only a priviledge, not a right, to get from A to B as fast as possible, in a hurtling metal machine that could take a life in seconds, given the wrong set of circumstances. And global warming – that’s nobody’s fault but ours. I have a car, and I use it. And, although I try to plan in advance, and get all my errands done in one day, I sometimes find myself driving several days a week. Rather than berate myself, I keep trying to do better, and I keep on walking.

Our world has a violent history of relying on our outer strength, rather than inner strength, to resolve differences. In our eagerness for short-term gain we are rapidly destroying everything around us. Through walking, whether we walk for adventure, walk to work, walk our dogs, walk for peace, we can reconnect with ourselves, each other, the world around us, and bring healing to all. So let's keep on walking.

From 2004-2011, Derek Youngs and I walked and worked together, leading groups of pilgrims on the Camino, giving slide show presentations on pilgrimage, and teaching children how to make origami peace birds. In 2010 we were married, and in 2011 Derek passed away. I intend to continue his legacy of peacemaking and walking. We began writing Derek’s memoir many years ago, but now Walking to Japan is in print and available.

Happy trails,
Carolyn Affleck Youngs