When I was in my mid-20s, I walked 1,600 km—about 995 miles—from the top of New Zealand’s North Island to the bottom on the Te Araroa Trail. It took me 3 months. I walked alone and slept in a tent in the bush for most of it. I was also taken in by some very kind folx along the way. This walk was post my gut and creative process exploding. And after years of living in a sprawling metropolis, I just wanted to be in nature and move a little to clear my head.
When I got to the entrance of the final trail before Wellington, the North Island’s southernmost city, I couldn’t make myself continue. It was a multi-day hike through ranges that sometimes got snow. I was tired, hungry, and sore. What’s more, the pilgrimage I was on had shifted since I began it at Cape Reinga three months prior. Walking every step of the trail was no longer the point. Allowing myself to be changed by the experience was. So I walked away.
I am persistent to a fault; to the point where my body quite literally gives out on me. Which is why it took me three months before I could excuse myself from the trail. It’s why I’ve spent years holding onto things that are no longer serving me long after I’ve realized the truth. And while I have a long history of burning bridges—something I have since learned to do productively—it has taken me much longer to figure out how to just back off.
Walking away is its own form of editing as healing. It’s the thing to do when it’s not worth your time and effort to salvage what’s in front of you. Because sometimes there really is nothing left to do; no amount of persistence is going to change things. If anything, continuing to fight will only extend the ways that you’re suffering in unnecessary ways. Despite our very human need for closure, sometimes it’s better to walk away and create our own.
We’re over halfway through Mercury Retrograde and—after a vigorous editing process—I’ve moved onto walking away. There are conversations on social media left I’ve left unfinished. Text messages I’ve left unanswered. And relationships I’ve just left. Because walking away felt right for me; because holding on felt so out of alignment with what I know will keep me well. Closure feels less like resolution and more like being okay with loose ends staying loose.
After I left the Te Araroa Trail, I went on to spend years getting deep into things only to wake up one day and walk away. Over time, I learned to trust my internal ways of “checking” and respond to them with greater agility and grace. I learned to sidestep paths that weren’t meant for me. Most importantly, I learned that I didn’t need to be a martyr in order to make my way in the world in a way that’s meaningful. I could walk away and life would continue to be wonderful.
So, what do you need to walk away from in your life right now?