• Maggie Marriott

Nature as coach: Walking into a headwind


My body is so agitated it is painful and I hear its demand to move. Outside the wind is howling and the air full of soaking, drifting mist, the sort of mist that will soak me as much as any torrential downpour of rain, but I know I must go out and become part of it. I pull on my coat, boots and hat and sigh as I open the door.


Which way shall I go? My body and mind answer, I need a long walk. A walk to let my mind and body come back into rhythm. A walk to let my heart and lungs work in harmony. A walk to let my thoughts wander where they will, where questions can arise without necessity of answer. I head to the long south beach.


The westerly wind is blowing without any consideration for my needs. The sand whips my face as I walk head down, taking small steps leaning into the wind. There are no seagull cries today or Sandpipers running along the shoreline as the waves ebb and flow. The wind battering into me roars in my ears and the mist soaks my face until I feel almost deaf and blind to anything else. I know I am walking to the headland at the end of the beach but today it is out of sight. I trudge on as my body demands but now my mind is telling me how futile this is and that I should turn back, so we argue as we walk. My heart is beating hard and my breathing is fast as I push forward into the wind and they take longer than usual to come to agreement about the right pace and rhythm for today, but they do and I can feel the balance begin to return in me. I know the headland is near as the force of the wind drops, the shelter from the wind is very welcome. I would normally pause a while and look out to sea but today the mist has removed any view, so I turn back along the beach.


The wind is behind me now and I notice I can now hear and raise my eyes, although the mist still shrouds my path. The winds push on my back does not compare to the fight of walking into it and I begin to think of privilege. With the wind behind my back walking is easy and unless I had just experienced the fight to walk into the wind, I would have no sense of what a struggle it was, how tired I felt and how often I wanted to give up. Is this how it is for those without privilege? Is this why when we have privilege, we cannot imagine how strong the headwind is for another? How hard mentally and physically each step is? To walk with the wind behind me is easy, my mind no longer demands I stop, and it begins to play with ideas like this one. Walking with the wind behind me I have energy left for creative thinking, for possibility and hope, even though the mist still shrouds my vision. My playful mind bounces around as my feet beat a rhythm on the sand in time with my heart and breath as I make my way home.


At my front door the key slips easily into the lock and as the door opens, I feel the welcome warmth and shelter engulf me. Time for tea.


As I drink my comforting tea questions still bounce around my head…

  • Who around me is walking into an unseen headwind?

  • What can I do to buffer them from the wind?

  • How can I be the wind behind their back?

  • Is walking into a headwind so normal for some people that they are unaware it is not the reality for everyone?

  • How do I respond to the anger of someone who is constantly fighting against a headwind I have never experienced?


Nature is a wonderful coach if we walk alongside her and let her questions arise in us.

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