One morning walk at a time.
I went out for a walk this morning instead of hitting the gym. I drove after a long time. Blessedly alone. When I parked, the skies were ominously dark. It was cold. I wondered to myself, “Should I wear my jacket? I might not need it after I start walking. Should I leave my wallet in the car or take it with me? Perhaps I should leave my wallet but take my phone.”
You get the drift; I was over-thinking it as I seem to over-think most things in my life. I stopped the mindless fear flow with a succinct: “Enough Avani. Just get out of the car and walk. “So off I went. Car keys in hand. Cell phone in my jacket pocket.
More thoughts set in immediately: “How far should I walk? I used to walk six rounds two years back. Will I be able to walk that much today? Six rounds in half and hour. Will that be too fast? What if something happens to me and I need my phone? It gets so crowded in there. Some walk in large groups. Some alone. Some with their family. Kids on their bikes. Some kids on skates. Enough Avani. Just start walking.
The following is an account of some of what I saw and what I thought as I walked.
Families walking: babies in strollers, kids on bikes and skates.
Did that woman give birth to those tiny little twins? They are so cute. She is in such great shape. What a great looking family. Wait! Wonder why the kid is not wearing a helmet. I would hate to see him fall on his head. There is something so beautiful about seeing families together, walking, talking, and growing closer – and there is something wonderful about being here without my family, walking, thinking, praying, dreaming, and experiencing this glorious morning at Kamatibaug all by myself.
Dogs: great danes and pomeranians. Alsatians and the occasional mixed breed.
I like dogs but never thought of bringing one home. Dogs are great companions and even better teachers. They seem to love every minute of their lives. They are so trusting, so hopeful. It seems like they are always looking forward to the next adventure, the next walk, the next meal, but also perfectly contented with where they are right now. Every little bit is enough for them. No big plans. No big dreams. They are just fine at any given point of time. When am I going to learn to live that contentedly and happily and gratefully?
Runners and walkers.
Will he drink all the water in all of those bottles hanging around his waist? I should have carried one too. What does it feel like to have all that stuff bouncing up and down on your hips while you run? It sure looks weird, but if it helps you get thru your run, then who am I to judge? Look at that woman’s legs. She is clearly a regular runner. I wonder how long it would take me to lose these extra pounds and be able to run a marathon. I should talk to my trainer and see what the first step should be. What the heck are you thinking, Avani? You are not a runner. You are a walker. Be grateful to be able to walk; stop fantasizing about a way of life that doesn’t interest you in the least. Now pay attention to where you are walking or you might slip or just bump into someone. Walk. Walk. Walk.
Men with men. Women with women. Men with women. Lots of people alone.
They look like they are having a great conversation. Are they married to each other or just friends out for a walk? Who wears flip flops on such a long walk? I guess she does. What language are they speaking at home? I greeted them; why didn’t they greet me in return? They act like they didn’t even see me walking past. Am I invisible this morning? Avani, are you planning to say “hello” to everyone you see? Why bother? Just leave them alone. Why does it feel like, no matter which way I am walking on this path, most of the people are going the other way? I am glad I’m here alone, so glad I came out this morning. People are so interesting and fun to watch. And your thoughts are quite interesting to observe too. Why do I sometimes think in the first person and sometimes in the second person? Why am I such a geek that I think about which subject and what form of the verb I use when I’m talking to myself? Maybe I should just stop talking to myself and watch where I’m walking.
Ipods and cell phones in action, and the unconnected and unplugged.
I cannot imagine walking with my ipod on. The sounds of birds and squirrels and frogs captivate me and move me more than any prerecorded song. It’s scary enough to have the joggers pass me when I cannot hear them coming; with my ears plugged, I’d have a series of heart attacks or small strokes everytime someone passed me unexpectedly. But then again, I prefer silence over noise in almost every situation. I don’t usually turn on the music in the car and almost never turn it on in the house. It is in the gym on the treadmill and out for walks that my best thinking happens, my best prayers are raised, my biggest dreams are incubated and hatched. Looks like I had forgotten that walking is my favorite form of exercise. It is so good to be out here this morning.
This morning, as my thoughts wandered, so did my feet; I ended up walking more than I ever had before. I did not feel the cold. I listened to people as they passed me and as I passed them. I smiled at what I heard and saw. I was awed by the varied beauty of the people I saw. I marveled at their determination to be outside, moving, breathing, stretching, and giving themselves the gift of better health. I wondered who was training for an event of some kind. I wondered who was in financial difficulties, whose children were sick, whose parents were ailing, whether or not some wished for more children or fewer. I wanted to know what it felt like to be such an elite athlete, to own such a large dog, and to wear such short shorts in public.
In between all those thoughts and questions and all that wondering along the trail, I was pondering the many ways in which this morning’s walk was similar to my life walk. Sometimes I walk my life journey with others and sometimes, most times, I am alone. Sometimes there are storms and falls and frights, and sometimes, most times, all is perfectly well. Sometimes people go running past me with deeply chiseled and taut spiritual muscles while I feel more and more like a novice athlete running this spiritual marathon trying to figure out the pace at which I will move and the intensity of the training I am willing to endure. Sometimes I get caught up in the comparison game – I am better or worse than… I am more fit or less fit than… I am smarter or denser than… I am kinder or meaner than… Sometimes I take myself out of the equation and simply applaud the successes of others and give thanks for simply being able to even live and breathe and move at all. Sometimes I am alert to the sounds and voices and music that are all around me, and sometimes I do my best to shut everyone and everything out and tune in to all that is being spoken into and within me. As fit and strong and determined as I sometimes feel along this marathon of life, I know that there are miles to go before I sleep, so very many miles to go before I sleep.
This is my life journey.
I am taking it one mile at a time.
One prayer at a time.
One journal page at a time.
One morning walk at a time.