On my walk this week in The Peak District I found myself musing about the many stiles I had to cross on the route. It is easy to get annoyed by stiles. You get a good rhythm going, you are making good time, and then this obstacle is placed in your way. The temptation is to get over it and recover your stride as quickly as possible. It is easy to rush the process of clambering over it in frustration. Many’s the time I have come close to doing myself a real mischief in the middle of nowhere by wanting to get over the stile and on with my walk as quickly as possible.
But stiles are wonderful. They are all different. The ones in The Peak District were often constructed from stone and built into the drystane dykes on either side. Someone had taken a lot of time and effort to design and build them. Even the more modern wooden ones were of bewildering variety and ingenuity. Rather than rushing them I took the time to appreciate them. I stepped carefully, and thoughtfully, over them enjoying the extra stretch of my legs. I have even been known to pat the odd stile and thank it for brightening my walk.
I try to remember this when more mundane obstacles are put in my way…