Time for a New Year

2015 was a tough one for our planet and for many of its inhabitants. For me, it was no different. Four days into the new year, I was hit with the worst stomach bug of my life. This virus weakened me so much that my eye was infected and remained so for weeks. At the same time, I was dealing with chronic gut issues and a very painful torn meniscus. I had knee surgery the second week of February and worked very hard to regain flexibility and strength in that leg over the next couple of months. To the surprise of my surgeon and physical therapist, I was still feeling a sharp pain that was similar to the one I felt pre-surgery weeks later. By mid-April, when I returned to yoga, I was struck with a new (and very scary) problem. Two days after my period ended, I began to bleed heavily every day for the next 10 weeks. (The doctor made me wait 6 weeks before he would perform a simple 10 minute test). In May, while I waited, I started experiencing debilitating migraines for the first time in my life, frequent nausea for no reason (making it very hard to try to do yoga), abdominal pain, and loss of energy. By early July, my body completely ran out of energy. I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t stay awake for more than 5 hours per day. I didn’t have the energy to say hello to a clerk or person on the street. It took me 3 and a half days to collect enough energy to go out and get groceries, after which I immediately had to go back to bed. I didn’t know what was happening to me. But I knew I didn’t want to live that way. I was ready to die.
At the end of July, I had my second surgery of the year. I had a polyp removed and the insides of my uterus blasted with microwave radiation to burn and destroy the lining. I woke up crying and confused. Part of me had thought that if they gave me anesthesia, I wouldn’t wake up. My body was too tired.
I anticipated that my energy would gradually return in the following weeks, but it did not. One night, while looking up the typical recovery time for my procedure, I read a long list of complaints from women who wished they had never had it. Many suffered from painful abscesses from pooled blood that could now not escape. I began to regret my decision.
By the end of August, I figured out that I was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Luckily, after posting this finding on Facebook, a fellow long distance hiker wrote to me about her own experience of contracting this disease when she was 27. It was one of the best letters I had received in my life. It reaffirmed some of the things I had been learning myself. By this time, I had occasionally tried doing some yoga at home with the result of rendering myself bedridden for the next several days or week. My body had completely lost its ability to recover. I had lost the ability to access my strength in the only way I previously had been able to access it. A simple flat walk on the beach would send me straight back to bed. I had a few remaining talks scheduled, but didn’t know how I would manage to even drive over two hours to give them. At the same time, my brain was paralyzed with a fog that I had never experienced before. I couldn’t read or write. I couldn’t even reach out for help.
By the end of October, I knew that I had to drastically change my diet in order to even have a chance at healing. I had to give up coffee, sugar, all grains, all beans, all dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshade vegetables. Two months into the diet, I was beginning to see some improvements in my digestive tract and brain fog, but I was disappointed with my lack of progress in regaining energy or my body’s ability to recover.
I have never been this sick for such a prolonged period of time. In many ways, having a chronic illness is similar to suffering from the flu every day consecutively for six months or years. It renders your body so weak that you are largely confined to bed. There was not one day this year (or in the last 2.7 years) where I felt healthy.
I also learned that very, very few people try to understand or sympathize with someone suffering from a chronic autoimmune illness, while they  become VERY responsive to those who have received a diagnosis of cancer. Cancer has been very well studied, funded, and publicized, whereas chronic “mystery” illnesses have not- even though more than 5 times the number of people have an autoimmune disease than have cancer and even though those who have been diagnosed with cancer are often able to live a much higher quality of life than someone with a chronic autoimmune disease.
I wondered throughout the year if I was experiencing the worst year of my life, but the truth is, I can’t remember when I haven’t had a very tough, challenging, and sorrow filled year. Some people’s lives are filled with an exorbitant amount of tragedy and strife. The playing field is most definitely not level. On the other hand, the human spirit is capable of tremendous resilience. I feel like this illness is giving me the opportunity to turn my life around. Not only am I learning to change my thoughts, perceptions, and therefore experience in life, I am learning that good things can be found in the most difficult places. I am learning that one’s biology and early life does not determine one’s destiny- that everything in life, including the expression of our genes can change when provided with the right environment.
In this past year alone, I spent many weeks unable to see, unable to walk, and unable to move my body at all (another name for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is System Exertion Intolerance Disease). I know very well that there can be no “shoulds” in life. Exercising (or doing yoga) is NOT good for everyone. Being a vegetarian (or any other lifestyle of eating) is NOT right for everyone. Walking or reading or engaging with others is not possible for everyone. We all have different chemistries, abilities, injuries, and illnesses which determine what is possible for us. Only we, ourselves, know what is best for us. Our own intuitions and experiences are our greatest authorities.
I am hopeful that in this coming year, I will continue to heal, to learn more about autoimmune diseases and their causes, and to use my knowledge to help others. It is projected that the number of people who suffer with an autoimmune or other chronic “mystery” illness will double or triple with every decade to come. What I have been going through is not without purpose. Neither is anyone else’s suffering.
I wish everyone good health,  hope, and an abundance of courage in the new year. And thank you to everyone who has shown me support in this past one!!

Advertisements

Depression is Not Always a “Bad” Thing

I’ve been suffering both physically and mentally these past few days. I think I was infected with another stomach bug the Monday before Christmas and for the past nine days, I lost all progress that I had been making with my digestive system in the last 2 months. The intense abdominal pain and diarrhea that I had suffered for the last 2.5 years returned. (The fact that I ingested several things on Christmas that are not Autoimmune Paleo approved didn’t help either, and left me feeling like I still have a very long way to go in terms of healing my digestive system alone). And yesterday, my visit with a new primary care physician left me feeling very depressed. She was no more sympathetic or compassionate than the last one. She did not want to repeat any blood work “because nothing would be different than it was in August”. She blamed the massive amount of hair I have been losing for the past 2 months on my new diet and did not want to have my T3 tested like the last doctor. “Why do you want that?” she asked.
“Because sometimes, T4 is not converted to T3,” I said. I told her I wanted to have a full thyroid panel done (free T3, reverse T3, etc), but she said insurance would not cover those tests.
She asked me if I was working and when I said no, asked “Why not?”. I realize that very few people can understand what it is like to have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome if they have not experienced it themselves, but I would hope that a doctor would at least be able to listen compassionately and try to understand. I had explained that I was sleeping 19 hours per day in the summer, that I was not able to even say “hello” to someone, that my brain fog was so strong that I could not read or reach out to anyone for help. “I felt paralyzed,” I told her. “I felt like I was dying.”
She had NOTHING to offer me. Her only suggestion was to see a GI and get a colonoscopy (which I do not want). I asked to see an infectious disease specialist, as I know that viruses are responsible for the onset of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She did not think that was necessary. She denied I had any problems with my adrenals and instead tried to make me feel like I had an eating disorder. “Have you been losing weight? Do you think you need to lose any more weight? What is your ideal weight?”. When I showed her the list of lab tests from the book the nutritionist I follow in California wrote, and asked her if she would consider taking any of them, she flipped to the cover, saw “The Loving Diet” and smiled dismissively. I quickly tried to defend the author, but realized neither I nor she had any power in this place. She asked what medications I was taking and I told her none- only vitamins. She wanted to know where I got these vitamins and what they were. I started to list some off the top of my head: Astragalus, Ashwaganda, Cat’s Claw, Vitamin B12, L-Glutamine…
“What are they for? I don’t know anything about these.”
I asked if there was anyone in the network who knew anything about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She said she didn’t know- that she would have to ask and get back to me later.
I went downstairs to register and wait to have my blood drawn. An anger rose in me about the medical establishment as a whole. More than 50 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disorder and an estimated 2.5 million have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Western Medicine has NOTHING to offer these people. NOTHING. They are left to fend for themselves, are forgotten, and left to live the remainder of their lives in pain and an unfunctional state. I am grateful that I have found some resources that have started to help me, but I can’t help thinking about all those who haven’t. From my experience, I have learned that anything that falls outside of the standard training that doctors have received is immediately dismissed. Patients are not being listened to, and resources that they have discovered are rejected and actually blamed for their symptoms! (My first doctor tried to blame my vitamins and the second one tried to blame my diet! For the record, I have never eaten this many vegetables in my life and I have cut out many of the harmful foods I had been eating!). This kind of attitude is not only an unfortunate consequence, it is unacceptable and harmful. I have been learning a lot of science in these past couple of months, and most of it I hear about from a nutritionist who stays on top of all the latest research, works with people who suffer from autoimmune diseases, and who regularly attends trainings by knowledgeable doctors in the field. Had I not started the AutoImmune Paleo Diet, my brain would not be working well enough for me to write this now. While I still have a long way to go, I have brought my sleeping hours down to 12-14 hours per day from 16-19, cleared a great deal of my paralyzing brain fog, and started to heal my intestines. During this time, I have also read books that dispute much of what doctors have been taught. Most of the bloodwork that they are performing is completely meaningless. Private companies are now offering much more accurate tests in a number of areas, but these tests are not covered by insurance, are very expensive, and they are not testing what the doctors have been trained to look for. This doctor asked me why I wanted to be tested for Epstein Barr and not Lyme. “You were in areas with ticks. It is more likely you have that.” I simply told her that according to the research I had done, I was not worried about having Lyme. (Besides the fact that I did not have those particular symptoms, I now know that Lyme is also caused by viruses [not bacteria!], and is not even caused by ticks!).

I returned home three hours later feeling defeated, powerless, and no better off than I went in. I sunk back into a tired depression. Later that night, I listened to Marianne Williamson’s latest lecture. To my surprise, she was much softer and more empathetic than usual. In response to someone’s question about constantly feeling depressed and anxious, she mentioned a study by an anthropologist on depressed chimpanzees. As in humans, a similar percentage of chimpanzees display characteristics of depression such as social withdrawal, hyper-vigilence, trouble sleeping, etc.. In this study, the chimpanzees who displayed depressed qualities were physical removed from their tribe. Marianne asked the audience what they thought happened to the remaining chimps when no longer around their depressed members after the researchers returned within a year.

It turned out that all of the remaining chimps were found dead! It was hypothesized that the depressed chimps served as a warning system to the others! They were the ones who were watching for predators, who stayed up and were more vigilant. Without them, there was no one to sound an alarm!
This story instantly perked me up and reminded me that my feelings were valid. There was a good reason I was feeling this way! I also remembered a similar story that Glennon Doyle Melton talks about: canaries in the coal mines. In the old days, miners used to take caged canaries down with them in the mines. When the canaries stopped singing, the miners knew the air was getting too toxic to breathe and that they would die if they didn’t get out.
Sensitive people who easily get depressed are the world’s alarm system! We know when something is wrong. There are a lot of harmful things happening on the earth right now, and one of them is the lack of attention being paid to the toxins in our environment and in our food, as well as the propagation and mutation of viruses that are making us sick. Right now, 1 in 50 children are autistic. It is projected that in the year 2030, which is only 15 short years away, 1 in 2 children will be autistic! This is a staggering figure! The children are warning us. We NEED to listen. Women have also been historically dismissed and labeled crazy for their physical symptoms. 70 years ago, women did not suffer from the menopause systems they do today. The problem is NOT women’s hormones. The problem is the radiation and toxicity that our earth is filled with today. Today, 20 and 30 year old women are experiencing the symptoms of menopause! We can no longer ignore these warnings!

The first thing that we need to do to begin to address these issues is to actually hear one another with complete openness and a beginner’s mind in order to gain an understanding of the root causes behind these diseases. There is no room for ego, no room for an “I know more than you because I hold an MD and you do not.” We must listen to those who are presently struggling with chronic illnesses, to stay on top of the latest research studies, to hear what those who are working with chronically ill patients are learning from the use of supplements, nutrition, and perception changes. The only way that we can begin to heal the earth and ourselves is to open our hearts fully so we can learn from one another and make changes to reverse the harm that has been done. Our emotions are valid. They are telling us very important things.

Holy Days

I’ve learned a lot from Marianne Williamson this past year. Christmas is not just about the birth of one man two thousand years ago. It is about the birth of Love in all of us. We all have the light within ourselves to pave a path out of fear and darkness. We all have the potential to bless one another and to see the divinity within each other. We all have the power to alter our thoughts and to create miracles as the expression of love. Christmas is a time of remembering and re-birthing these parts of ourselves. We are already whole. Merry Christmas and Happy Holy Days to all!

I would like to share an article from Marianne that was published in the Huffington Post a few years ago.

“The holidays are only holy if we make them so.

Otherwise, the assault of modernity — from crass consumerism to a 24-hour news cycle to the compulsivity of the wired world — wrecks whatever we have left of our nervous systems, making the true spiritual meaning of Christmas seem as distant as the furthest star. It’s only when we consciously carve out a space for the holy — in our heads, our hearts and our lifestyles — that the deeper mysteries of the season can reveal themselves.

The holidays are a time of spiritual preparation, if we allow them to be. We’re preparing for the birth of our possible selves, the event with which we have been psychologically pregnant all our lives. And the labor doesn’t happen in our fancy places; there is never “room in the Inn,” or room in the intellect, for the birth of our authentic selves. That happens in the manger of our most humble places, with lots of angels, i.e. Thoughts of God, all around.

Something happens in that quiet place, where we’re simply alone and listening to nothing but our hearts. It’s not loneliness, that aloneness. It’s rather the solitude of the soul, where we are grounded more deeply in our own internal depths. Then, having connected more deeply to God, we’re able to connect more deeply with each other. Our connection to the divine unlocks our connection to the universe.

According to the mystical tradition, Christ is born into the world through each of us. As we open our hearts, he is born into the world. As we choose to forgive, he is born into the world. As we rise to the occasion, he is born into the world. As we make our hearts true conduits for love, and our minds true conduits for higher thoughts, then absolutely a divine birth takes place. Who we’re capable of being emerges into the world, and weaknesses of the former self begin to fade. Thus are the spiritual mysteries of the universe, the constant process of dying to who we used to be as we actualize our divine potential.

We make moment-by-moment decisions what kind of people to be — whether to be someone who blesses, or who blames; someone who obsesses about past and future, or who dwells fully in the present; someone who whines about problems, or who creates solutions. It’s always our choice what attitudinal ground to stand on: the emotional quicksand of negative thinking, or the airstrip of spiritual flight.

Such choices are made in every moment, consciously or unconsciously, throughout the year. But this is the season when we consider the possibility that we could achieve a higher state of consciousness, not just sometimes but all the time. We consider that there has been one — and the mystical tradition says there have also been others — who so embodied his own divine spark that he is now as an elder brother to us, assigned the task of helping the rest of us do the same. According to A Course in Miracles, he doesn’t have anything we don’t have; he simply doesn’t have anything else. He is in a state that is still potential in the rest of us. The image of Jesus has been so perverted, so twisted by institutions claiming to represent him. As it’s stated in the Course, “Some bitter idols have been made of him who came only to be brother to the world.” But beyond the mythmaking, doctrine and dogma, he is a magnificent spiritual force. And one doesn’t have to be Christian to appreciate that fact, or to fall on our knees with praise and thanks at the realization of its meaning. Jesus gives to Christmas its spiritual intensity, hidden behind the ego’s lure into all the wild and cacophonous sounds of the season. Beyond the nativity scenes, beyond the doctrinal hoopla, lies one important thing: the hope that we might yet become, while still on this earth, who we truly are.

Then we, and the entire world, will know peace.”

-Marianne Williamson

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marianne-williamson/christmas-for-mystics_b_2288340.html

Our Chance to Directly Help Refugees with Small Acts of Love!

One million dollars was raised in 31 hours by 40,000 people!

Collectively, with small acts of love, we have the power to create miracles.

You can read more about the aid already given from the donations collected during a 24 hour “Love Flash Mob” in November in (my heroine) Glennon Doyle Melton’s moving post. http://momastery.com/blog/2015/12/18/saving-lives/

“We have a plan. You are a part of it.

Today’s refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian emergency the world has seen since World War II. Just as the Greatest Generation’s response to the holocaust defined them, so will our response define us.

We want to be remembered as the generation that chose Love over Fear.

As you read this, thousands are fleeing terror and war – forced from their homes into tiny boats with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the children in their arms. They will cross the sea, walk for days, holding tight to their families and their hope for safety and a future.

This moment in time is asking us a critical question. How will we respond? Let us answer: with compassion.

Compassion will guide us. Compassion is humanity’s North Star. It will always guide us out of the dark, back toward peace, hope and each other.

Today’s Questions:

Should starving women be fed?
Should homeless babies be sheltered?
Should freezing men be warmed?
Should drowning children be saved?

If your heart says YES: Join us.

Join us in a circle of humanity standing shoulder to shoulder, together saying:

In a fearful world, I stand with love.

WE ARE THE COMPASSION COLLECTIVE.

Our symbol is the compass. We vow to let compassion guide us, one step at a time.”

And an update from Elizabeth Gilbert:
“WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

Dear Ones –

I want to tell you the exact reason why I am trying to raise money right now to help with the refugee crisis.

I want to tell you exactly why I’ve gathered together with my friends Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed, Rob Bell and Glennon Doyle Melton to try to meet the audacious goal of raising a million dollars for this emergency.

I’m doing it because of this quote, which came to my attention through an organization called HELP REFUGEES, whom we are partnering with, and who are working on the ground in Greece, right at the heart of this crisis. This quote came from a volunteer doctor they are working with, who ended a recent phone call from the island of Lesvos with this desperate plea:

“There are thousands of children here and their feet are literally rotting, they can’t keep dry, they have high fevers and they’re standing in the pouring rain for days on end. You have one month, guys, and then all these people will be dead”.

I can’t know about this situation, and not do something about it.

I can’t know about children facing the winter — cold, homeless and hungry and with rotting feet — and not do something about it.

I am doing this because of kids like the beautiful little boy in this photo — who our team has already assisted — because they need our help.

I know you want to help, too…and you can!

Already today, over 10,000 people from this Facebook page (and Rob’s Facebook page, and Brene’s Facebook page, and Cheryl’s Facebook page, as well) helped us to raise almost $270,000 toward our goal.

Over a quarter of a million dollars…in just a few hours!

Not a penny of it will be wasted.

This is where your money is going:

BLANKETS.

BABY CARRIERS.

LIFE JACKETS.

FOOD.

WARM CLOTHING.

FLOOD LIGHTS (for pulling people out of the water at night)

LAMPS.

WOODEN SHELTERS.

LIFE.

This money is going to to life — to save human lives.

Like: IMMEDIATELY, in real time. You have no idea how efficient these people are, who we are working on the ground, helping out. They’re amazing.

Let’s save more lives.

Let’s keep going, Dear Ones. Let this be your best Christmas gift, dedicated to the poeple you love most. IMy own donations are in the names of my beloved family members.) Let’s use our holiday hearts full of love to show up for some of the most desperate people in the world right now. Let’s make a difference.

Keep donating, keep giving, keep caring.Most of all, keep SHARING these posts, and inviting the big-hearted people in your lives to stand with love.

The more you share, the more love will pour in.

Those of us who are warm and dry and safe and well-fed must show up for those who are cold and wet and endangered and hungry. That’s a rule of life. Every ethical and religious and spiritual tradition in the world agrees on that rule.

Nothing matters to me more right now than helping these people.

My entire Christmas this year = THIS.

Please join me in this miracle of love.

THANK YOU!

Here is the link, to join us, and to donate:

http://bit.ly/1NyoLf1

LOVE YOU ALL,

LG”

What are We Missing when We Shut out Darkness?

“Bring On the Dark
Why We Need the Winter Solstice”

By CLARK STRAND
DEC. 19, 2014

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — When the people of this small mountain town got their first dose of electrical lighting in late 1924, they were appalled. “Old people swore that reading or living by so fierce a light was impossible,” wrote the local historian Alf Evers. That much light invited comparisons. It was an advertisement for the new, the rich and the beautiful — a verdict against the old, the ordinary and the poor. As Christmas approached, a protest was staged on the village green to decry the evils of modern light.

Woodstock has always been a small place with a big mouth where cultural issues are concerned. But in this case the protest didn’t amount to much. Here as elsewhere in early 20th-century America, the reluctance to embrace brighter nights was a brief and halfhearted affair.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. But few of us will turn off the lights long enough to notice. There’s no getting away from the light. There are fluorescent lights and halogen lights, stadium lights, streetlights, stoplights, headlights and billboard lights. There are night lights to stand sentinel in hallways, and the lit screens of cellphones to feed our addiction to information, even in the middle of the night. No wonder we have trouble sleeping. The lights are always on.

In the modern world, petroleum may drive our engines but our consciousness is driven by light. And what it drives us to is excess, in every imaginable form.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the availability of cheap, effective lighting extended the range of waking human consciousness, effectively adding more hours onto the day — for work, for entertainment, for discovery, for consumption; for every activity except sleep, that nightly act of renunciation. Darkness was the only power that has ever put the human agenda on hold.

In centuries past, the hours of darkness were a time when no productive work could be done. Which is to say, at night the human impulse to remake the world in our own image — so that it served us, so that we could almost believe the world and its resources existed for us alone — was suspended. The night was the natural corrective to that most persistent of all illusions: that human progress is the reason for the world.

Advances in science, industry, medicine and nearly every other area of human enterprise resulted from the influx of light. The only casualty was darkness, a thing of seemingly little value. But that was only because we had forgotten what darkness was for. In times past people took to their beds at nightfall, but not merely to sleep. They touched one another, told stories and, with so much night to work with, woke in the middle of it to a darkness so luxurious it teased visions from the mind and divine visitations that helped to guide their course through life. Now that deeper darkness has turned against us. The hour of the wolf we call it — that predatory insomnia that makes billions for big pharma. It was once the hour of God.

There is, of course, no need to fear the dark, much less prevail over it. Not that we could. Look up in the sky on a starry night, if you can still find one, and you will see that there is a lot of darkness in the universe. There is so much of it, in fact, that it simply has to be the foundation of all that is. The stars are an anomaly in the face of it, the planets an accident. Is it evil or indifferent? I don’t think so. Our lives begin in the womb and end in the tomb. It’s dark on either side.

We’ve rolled back the night so far that soon we will come full circle and reach the dawn of the following day. And where will that leave us? In a world with no God and no wolf either — only unrelenting commerce and consumption, information and media … and light. We need a rest from ourselves that only a night like the winter solstice can give us. And the earth, too, needs that rest. The only thing I can hope for is that, if we won’t come to our senses and search for the darkness, on nights like these, the darkness will come looking for us.

Clark Strand is the author of the forthcoming book “Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/opinion/why-we-need-the-winter-solstice.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&referer

Does Walking as a Lifestyle ever get Boring?

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is currently three years into a seven to nine year foot journey, tracing the route of human civilization from Ethiopia to the southern tip of Patagonia. (What a treat for us! An excellent writer on a fascinating journey! How did I not know about this?!). In this article, he answers the question of whether he is “tired” or rather, bored of walking. Although his journey involves much more variety and daily problem solving skills than hikes on pre-formed trails, his answer is the same as mine. Every day is different and unique in a life of walking!

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/opinion/exploring-the-world-on-foot.html?_r=0

BAKU, Azerbaijan — IT’S an odd feeling: being aware of the Earth rotating beneath your feet.

It happened to me near the Turkish city of Tarsus. The Anatolian countryside was an antique flag that fluttered under the summer sun: dusty green olive groves, soil as red as burgundy wine, cornflower blue lakes — the old hues of the Fertile Crescent. My boots scared up grasshoppers from the brittle grasses. Whirlwinds of swallows swooped to feed. And I felt it: The burning horizons were creaking up to meet me. I was walking, effortlessly, atop a gigantic ball.

I felt it also trekking the Rift Valley of Ethiopia and crossing the Caucasus range of Georgia. I feel it now all the time: a kind of hyper-attentive trance. When it overcomes me, I feel capable of walking to the edge of the world where the water falls off.

And yet, a London friend, an urbane world traveler, keeps emailing me this taunting message: “Aren’t you tired?”

She is referring to my project, the “Out of Eden Walk.” I’m a journalist. I’m three years into a seven-year (or eight-year — O.K., maybe nine-year) foot journey from Africa to South America. I’m reporting stories at boot level along the pathways of our species’ first Stone Age exploration of the Earth. What my friend actually means, though, is: “Aren’t you bored?”

I get a lot of this. Readers frequently ask what strolling across continents is really like — as if they’re secretly hoping to hear that plodding from horizon to horizon (I’ve clocked about 5,000 miles so far) is mind-numbingly dull. As if commuting by car or subway to a desk job wasn’t boring. As if gorging on the ersatz stimuli gushing from our hand-held devices wasn’t ultimately, at the end of each digitally bloated day, somehow tedious. From the global walking trail, my answer is an astonished, “No.”

Walking for weeks, months and years in the outdoors, calipering the vast physical and human stage called landscape with my legs, is the opposite of boring.

The land changes and challenges with each footstep. (Given my 30-inch stride, I take about 40,000 steps a day.) How do I hopscotch through a Turkish marsh? How do I approach an Azeri farmer and his snarling dog? How to scramble out of a spontaneous rock-and-rubber-bullet fight between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank? How do I alert authorities — and navigate the chambers of my own heart — when I stumble across the bodies of migrants killed by thirst in the Djiboutian desert? Where do I locate my next meal anywhere?

Every dawn I fling myself, bodily, into the world. One hundred puzzles, existential and prosaic, confront me throughout the walking day. None of these pedestrian dilemmas are repetitive. Each requires a novel solution. I am not so much pacing off time zones as problem solving — improvising — my way through them.

Psychologists define boredom as “the aversive experience of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity.” Brain studies suggest that boredom occurs whenever the taps for serotonin and dopamine, the pleasure and reward hormones, run dry. (Chronic boredom is associated with depression, addiction and attention deficit disorders.) How long have humans endured such listless mental doldrums? Long enough for regional inflections of boredom to emerge, from what the French melancholically call nausea to the German’s disappointed weltschmerz.

In “A Natural History of Human Emotions,” however, the cultural historian Stuart Walton argues that boredom, as a Western cultural trope, was basically invented yesterday. It dates, Mr. Walton says, from the mid-19th century, when the angsty concerns of the European leisured classes were immortalized in dissections of ennui such as “Anna Karenina” and “Madame Bovary.” (One suspects the anonymous Industrial Revolution proles who supported this enervated elite grappled with their own debilitating variety of boredom, albeit inside the murky warehouses of soul-crushing, robotic labor.)

The classicist Peter Toohey digs deeper. In “Boredom: A Lively History,” Mr. Toohey cites a plaque unearthed near Naples that honors a Roman worthy named Tanonius Marcellinus for having “rescued the population from endless boredom,” probably by sponsoring gladiatorial games. (Our salvation from boredom has evolved from spilling real blood in sand arenas to spilling pixelated blood in Mortal Kombat. Let’s be charitable and call this progress.)

But what about way back when? What of the ancestors whose forgotten migrations I am following? The nomadic Pleistocene hunter-gatherers who populated 95 percent of human history and who conquered the planet for us? Life in the Stone Age was hard. It was short. But it probably didn’t lack for idle afternoons.

Many anthropologists note that hunter-gatherers spend far less time “at work” than we do. African nomads like the San of the Kalahari Desert devote between 12 and 19 hours a week to securing their basic needs for food and shelter, as opposed to a harried 40-hour-a-week American.

I happen to think the seeds of boredom were planted along with the first wild cereals sown, possibly somewhere in the Near East, around 12,000 years ago: with the rise of agriculture. Farming rooted us to one spot and locked us into the treadmill of circular, monotonous lives. But clearly, there is more to boredom than what clinicians and historians can tell us.

As I prepare to set out on the next phase of my long trek, into the colossal steppes of Central Asia, I think about my past 1,000 days on foot.

My “work,” such as it is, is simply this: to be awake. You can sleepwalk your way through a relationship or a soul-smothering job. (I have.) But you cannot sleepwalk your way across the scorched Hejaz dune fields of Saudi Arabia. Because if you do, you won’t come out the other side. Naturally, this doesn’t preclude states of reverie, wakeful dreaming, which are long associated with foot power and are anything but boring.

I take a step. And then another. Each is new. Each is a gamble. Each is a negotiation with the substantial world that occasions an immediate, irreversible and tangible reward: I do not fall. And I move forward. Or, should I fall, I must overcome the obstacle with the most primordial collaboration of all: between mind and body.

“The hunter is the alert man,” writes the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. The hunter knows, Ortega y Gasset adds, that “the solution might spring from the least foreseeable spot on the great rotundity of the horizon.”

The walk is a hunt. It is a quality of alertness. There is something supple and deeply satisfying about this. Walking as a lifestyle is a moment-to-moment intellectual exercise that seems recollected, familiar. It electrifies the Stone Age brain that we all still carry with us: a restless brain, a brain that thirsts not just for change — our information age technology drenches us in novelty — but for tangible instead of symbolic progress. It is a brain that abhors routine. It is a brain that does not know boredom.

No, I’m not tired yet.