Next Monday, I’m exploring Outdoor Intelligence with a group of experienced coaches who want to bring this into their practice with clients. Years of exploration have signposted me to the many ways that I both experience and understand that intelligence. This story of my early morning walk describes part of what that experience. Clear thinking and the pull to do my work in the world. Here goes …..

Mouse-coloured mud suctions my boots as I navigate the mossy style. It’s my regular, get-the-dog-walked-early-route around the fields. But on this bright, cold, January morning, I don’t think of the dog at my side. Panic tightens my chest. I need my brain to work. What to do with thoughts of yesterday’s all-day meeting, VIP list for next Tuesday’s event, draft web pages, team meet with them, and them? And so it goes on ….

Breathing in fresh air, I methodically adopt this long-proven practice. No choice. I’m too tired to think. Get outside. Walk. Breathe in, in-spire, the same etymology. Inspire, breathe in spirit.

Back at my desk, my wafer-thin laptop is rammed with priorities, projects and endless emails, virus-like in their growth. Even as I walk, I’m aware what awaits. And what it asks of me.

Truth is, I’m brain sick. Not a degenerative disease or tumour, I have every day, commonplace, dull brain sickness. It’s grown over three decades. Burgeoning responsibility, social media and travel, a creeping sclerosis appears in my brain when the gatekeeper falls asleep.

My antidote is this time out of time and, beyond the earthly beauty, the greater knowing contained within. Looking at the skeletal winter trees, lichen shone green by the winter light, space appears inside me. Timeless, except in its’ dancing with the seasons, this holds me, rooted. And, regardless of my ridiculous condition, I take my place in the midst of this creation. Wondrous, when I’ll allow it.

It’s as if a novice potter has thrown large lumps of cold, wet clay onto the inside of my skull, unsure of what to do. Data, deadlines, decisions. Soon, it’ll be time for the master potter to remove them, put them by her wheel. Handful at a time, her experienced touch shapes, refines and places each wrought form by the firing oven. Onto the next one.

My lungs burn a little as I arrive back at my door. The familiar strength of my legs reminds me of the mountains last Summer. A little smile, a kiss of remembrance.

Coffee in hand, I return to my stained wooden desk, positioned in the light. On it, the mottled orange stone from a long ago walk. A desiccated seed head from the field. The holiday picture that makes my heart plump. Feeling my weight in the office chair, I settle into my body.

Then, the experienced touch reaches out for my wafer-thin laptop. The forms appear. There’s movement. Like the shooting star last Summer in the Alps, I sense my brain firing. There’s space in the globe-shaped observatory.

There are larger forms that are more important. Some connect in collections. Someone over there needs to see them. Someone over here delights in them. More forms are beckoned.

We’re back in the game. It’s flowing. The sclerosis underground, for now. Kept in remission by life, and air, and stars.