matt grant

walk the line

I go for a walk every morning when I get up.

Part of the route is a combined pedestrian and cycle path. Down the middle is a raised white line.

I’m inexplicably drawn to balancing on it. It’s quite a wide line though and balancing on it is not particularly challenging.

I found myself walking along one day and wondering, could I follow this line with my eyes closed?

So I tried. Turns out, I can.

I also discovered something fascinating. Not only could I follow it, but it was fairly easy.

As soon as I closed my eyes, my awareness moved to my feet. The first few steps landed squarely on top of the line. Then I stepped slightly to the left. I could feel the curved profile where the line joined the pavement and this feedback allowed me to correct my path. Back to the centre. Then a bit off to the side again, sense the change, make the adjustment.

I continued in this manner for a little while before opening my eyes again.

During the rest of my walk, I thought about this experiment and what it had taught me. Two insights came to mind.

Firstly, the importance of trying things and listening to how you feel about the results. Imagine the white line is the life you think you want to lead. Sometimes you stray away from it, you explore other options. And it’s important you do that. But pay attention to the situations which cause you stress and internal friction. Then take action. Take responsibility for moving in the direction that you want to go.

Secondly, consider where your focus lies. Not only what do you notice immediately, but what is happening sub-consciously. What are the little automatic responses you aren’t even aware of? What are you taking for granted? What can they tell you?

So keep challenging yourself. You never know what you might find.