Stretching Your Muscles – And Your Mind

“There is nothing better for the inside of a man,” Elbert Hubbard once wrote, “than the outside of a horse.”

I have a horse and I must agree with Mr. Hubbard, who often took his guests at the Roycroft Inn on rides around his property. Yesterday we took our horses over to our neighbor’s property, known to many as the Biltmore Estate outside of Asheville, where we took a leisurely ride along the many trails that weave through the woods and fields surrounding the Biltmore House.

I was once young and foolish. Now, I’m just no longer young. But when it comes to horses, I try not to be foolish. “If you never forget that a horse can kill you,” a grizzled Colorado trail boss once told me, “chances are it never will.”

Our Sunday rides are basically a sitting walk, although this morning my back and leg muscles could argue the point. Elbert and Alice Hubbard reportedly rode around East Aurora nearly every day. We are lucky to ride once a week, through no one’s fault but our own.

But while my horse is still in his stall eating his breakfast of grain and hay, I try to start each day with a walk, a four-mile loop that winds alongside fields of corn, tomatoes and hay, pastures dotted with Hereford cows and their white-faced calves, and Becky’s Rest Home, where my two sons keep threatening to send me. Soon.

I start just as the sun is coming up and finish an hour later. If I could make it last any longer, I would, for those sixty minutes away from my phone, my computer, my office, my mail and the morning news are invigorating. I generate more fresh, creative ideas on my morning walk than I do the entire day in my office.

And I have come to a conclusion: the two best hours of the entire day are the first hour of light and the last.

And I have made a resolution: never spend the first hour of light in bed or the last hour of light in front of a television.

Try it and see if your life and your work don’t both improve. Go it alone or take someone with you. It doesn’t require any special clothes, equipment or shoes. Just take a walk. Say hello to a neighbor. Wave to a stranger. Pick up some litter. Stretch your muscles and your mind.

And don’t come home until you’ve got a great, new idea.

Until next Monday!