When I was 26 I joined the Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament. Back then, in 1986 and Ronald Reagan was president, we were fearful that the USA and Russia would launch a nuclear war. Unable to continue to live in this heightening tension, I was moved to join the march and do something about it. We were going to walk from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. and speak to our leaders and everyone along the way about the issue.
Everyday we would walk around 15-20 miles. There was between 400-600 of us, and early in the morning we’d start off together and then end up at the next ‘tent city’ somewhere up the road. When we were in or near cities we’d bunch together, and other people would join in and swell our numbers. Also, for security and safety the police would marshal us along a bit. But after the cities, and particularly once we left the Rockies and descended into the Great Plains, we would spread out along the never ending stretches of road.
When we walked through Nebraska, what became quickly apparent was the miles and miles of corn fields. Day after day you could practically hear the corn growing. Long green fields of corn growing under a hot sun.
What I particularly remember is one day walking. We were so spread out now that I found myself walking alone at some point. I was walking and my mind was doing its usual chatter when I realised that while my mind was chattering away I was also there, walking free – I was moving, walking, being without any particular agenda other than to walk. This change of focus, for that’s what it was – not an experience so much as an insight – both were apparent but I was choosing to be centered in the Blake who was walking. It seems simple now but it was quite a profound awakening when I look back.
Later that day, as I was walking and really admiring the landscape surrounding me, I was suddenly struck by something – a thought or a voice: I had the distinct comprehension that said ‘don’t worry about the earth – it will be OK’.
Here I was on a peace march, worried about our future annihilation and I had this insight that said not to worry, the earth would be o.k. It was something very deep and it stayed with me for a long while. I don’t think I told anyone about it at the time, but when I look back it seems such a significant occurrence – some deep place of trust had opened to me – trust and no problem. That deep relaxation from the worry of the day seemed to point to a deeper reality in myself.
I went on to continue in the peace march until the end in November 1986 in Washington D.C. By then though I now think something had started building. I think that singular spiritual experience or opening had unsettled something in me. While it hadn’t provided me any map or idea of what to do differently with my life, that voice, that deeper understanding that showed me there was a different way to relate to the world continued to haunt me after the March.
That place within, that depth asked me to trust life and recognise that things were not necessarily what they seem, and also that I didn’t have to listen to my thoughts, the constant endless chatter but instead let go and focus on some bigger truth.
Here’s one part of a great 11-part video about the Peace March when we crossed the Rockies and entered Nebraska – please have a watch if you are interested: