Walking, emotions and lots of cows

“Facts are like cows. If you look them in the face long enough, they generally run away.” Dorothy L. Sayers

What a weird title to a post, you might think. But hang on for the next few sentences and you will get the connections. One of the favorite past times in England is going for walks in the country. The UK is blessed with lots of public footpaths, bridleways and tracks that traverse the countryside. We decided to take the dogs and walk a circular walk taking in a couple of villages near where we live. The plan was to walk to one village, stop for a light bite of lunch at a pub and then walk back home. About 8 km or 5 miles in total. Off we go and it is great. Across two fields, watching the birds flying about, the dogs chasing smells. Out in the sunshine. All is well.

Till we get to the field at the bottom of the hill. The path goes straight through the field and in it is a herd of cows. Now cows are inquisitive creatures by nature and dogs and cows generally do not mix. Especially if the cows have calves, they tend to get defensive and charge. However, these were young cows all facing away, munching on grass. My heart was in my throat as we walked around the edge of the field, furthest away from them. Images of rampaging bovines, tossed bloodied bodies, sprung to mind. Whilst at the same time, trying to control dogs on leads, watch the cows, avoid the large wet cow pats and keep walking to the far end of the field. We made it and my heart rate slowly went back to normal.

We walked, without further issues to the pub for the light lunch. Afterwards, we continued on our way. The very first field we came to, bingo, more cows. This time, all of them looking at us, most of them with horns. We were unified in our decision. There was no way we were going to go into that field. Diversion time. Checking the map – yes we brought one with us – we decided to traverse another field to try to get onto the path a different way.

Walking across another field and double bingo, there appeared another group of cows, this time led by a bull. A quick about turn and back we went. Our original route, plus diversion were now blocked. This meant a longer walk on a different path. It was sunny. We had water and snacks, so why not carry on? We did and after walking along a long track, we came to another field. And yes, there were more cows in it. By this time, we decided to walk along the edge of the field and away from the cows, in the direction we needed.

Did my heart race this time? No. Was I worried? No? I was cautious. We knew that if we kept to the edge of the field; you can jump over most fences; walked reasonably quickly; with the dogs on leads; the cows ignored you. That was the last field of cows we came to. We got home and relaxed with a cup of tea

Sitting this morning, I came across an article entitled: “What is an emotion?”. The final section of the article really struck a chord with me. The section is below:

More recently, scholars have wondered if emotions are “natural kinds” at all – that is, whether, in our brains, there’s a single category of thing to which joy, fear, sadness, etcetera, all belong, except insofar as we’ve decided there is. ………. Or perhaps, to adopt a perspective echoing Buddhist psychology, it’s not unnerving but deeply reassuring? After all, if there’s nothing to emotions except sensations plus thinking, it follows that nothing you could ever experience in life, no matter how terrible, will ever be anything more than a bunch of thoughts, plus a few physical sensations. And you can probably handle that.

Link to the article: The Guardian – Oliver Burkeman, What exactly is an emotion @oliverburkeman


I thought to myself. Those cows were not so frightening after all. We encountered four different groups. We were not gored, trampled, chased, or even moo’d at. The most they did was look at us, whilst slowly chewing grass. We were cautious, respectful and were aware of walking away from them. So maybe, the emotions I felt were just the sensations plus an over active imaginative mind.

If you have had encounters with cows. or other wildlife, would love to hear how you dealt with them.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

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