Thursday, May 06, 2010

Life at a Walking Pace

If you've been following this blog, or know me, you know that the past bunch of months have been full of stressful life events, including my parents' ill health, significant water damage from a plumbing leak, a basement flood, and an emergency appendectomy for good measure. I've been slowly emerging from a fight or flight response that seemed to last 6 months.

Part of this recovery is due to the loving support of friends and family, part is just the tincture of time, part the balm of writing (and poetry has been particularly healing). Another piece of the healing has been getting back to life at a walking pace. When I'm in panic mode, one of the first things to go is self-care, along with a sense of perspective and time. Everything seems equally stressful and pressured and the thought of spending time on a long walk seems particularly wasteful.

So begins a cycle, a downward spiral of mood and physical health.

Recently, I've been prioritizing my morning walk with my dog, Tigger. We have a typical circuit that starts with walking to school with my youngest. (Not that he needs me to walk with him--he's 14 and perfectly able to get to school on his own. But he likes his time with the dog. Oh, and maybe also with his mom.) Then our walk takes us to the bike path that meanders along the Charles River.

It's a quiet space, full of the chitter of birds, a leafy canopy of trees that filters the light into lovely shadows and patterns. In early spring, there are fiddlehead ferns. In later summer, wild blackberries. When storms come, the deadfall becomes habitat for animals and mulch for the earth.

It's just a small oasis in a settled suburban landscape and aside from its natural beauty, I also love to see how much the dog gets from running and sniffing the 'sniffery'. Her ears flap and she has that goofy lab-face grin. It would be almost impossible not to respond to her utter abandon and joy.

When we walk, I start to notice the small details of sight, sound, and scent around me. Today a mama duck and a brood of fuzzy headed hatchlings paddled up and down the creek leading to the river.

These are details you cannot get from a car window, living life at a car's frantic pace.

I enjoin you to take the time to live at a walking pace. Time is relative and the time I spend walking seems to return to me several times over during the course of my day.

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