0249 – take slow walks

Slow walks. As I got out of the train today after a week of sickness, a day of work and a conversation with an old friend, I thought, “I don’t want to take the bus. I want to walk.” And as I walked for a bit, I found myself thinking, “I walk too fast. I’d like to walk slowly.”

I remember observing old men struggle to walk, with or without aids– walking sticks, walkers, canes– and thinking, wow, it must be horrible to struggle at that terribly slow pace. They put in so much effort to move so little, and it must be agonizing for them to get anywhere.

And perhaps that’s true. It must be terrible if you can’t do what you want to do. To get by, you’re going to have to rationalize tht you don’t want to do it, or you’re willing to accept what you can and cannot do, and focus on what you can– very enlightened, mature perspective.

What about for us young ones, especially the able-bodied? It’s the same fundamental problem, only it seems like there’s so much we CAN do…

I feel like I’m moving away from the point I want to make. Let me let go and start over. I felt like taking a slow walk, and so I did. And it was really interesting. This is just one experience, so I shouldn’t generalize, but I’ll just describe it anyway.

It seemed to me that when I slow my pace down significantly, my entire perspective changed. Suddenly, the walk isn’t about going somewhere any more. It’s not about getting home as soon as possible. It’s about being present in each step, in each moment. I’m reminded of a quote from Alan Watts– when you listen to an orchestra, it’s not like they’re trying to get to a specific point on the score, or to the end. When you see somebody dancing, you don’t ask them if there’s a point on the stage that they want to get to.

So it’s interesting how in our day to day lives, we tend to forget that all of it is really a dance, all of it is music. Every moment of every day. We set aside moments– vacations, retreats, but really… all of life is the meditation.

Ugh, I’m really not liking how I’m sounding in this vomit, and possibly in the last few vomits. It feels unnecessarily preachy and wannabe-spiritual or wannabe-something. I’d like to discard that please. Can I start over?

I just feel like I’ve spent a lot of time running after the next moment. Going from one moment to the next moment. Using each moment to propel myself into the next moment. And I end up wondering, when will it all be okay? When will it be less stressful, when will it pleasant? And I remember– thanks to Kabat-Zinn and Guruka and all the others– that it never will be. There is only this moment. Everything is a meditation. This writing is a meditation.

I wonder what’s the distinction between walking slowly to enjoy each moment, and writing as fast as possible so that you don’t deliberate too much on each point.

I’m just going to list observations, maybe. I notice that when I was walking slowly, it felt somewhat unfamiliar and uncomfortable– not just psychologically, not just in the sense that it’s a different pace to be moving at. But even physically, at the most basic, tactile sense. It feels like I’m using different muscles when walking slowly. And it feels like I’ve never really used those muscles before, so I rock around slightly awkwardly. I instinctively feel like there must be some sort of deeper meaning in that, like.,.. something about how I must be neglecting some “stablizer” muscles or something that I’ve never really used.

But I like the idea of being slow. I like the idea of getting good at being slow, like getting good at breathing in a deep, resonant way. Getting good at big movements rather than small, cramped, difficult ones. I don’t really know how to describe all of this very well, which is humbling because I’ve gotten better at describing some things but not very much better at describing others.

I should just finish this vomit and go to bed and get some clarity of mind. My mind has not been clear for a week, primarily due to illness.

When I was getting tired and frustrated with work a few months ago, I realized that I needed to meditate. I needed to listen to saner voices and I needed to carve out times to decompress, to destress, to loosen up, and I realize that I still have been ‘compressed’. I don’t go for massages and floats as much as I’d like, and if I could I’d do it almost every week… but even then, those things are just temporary solutions. They can trigger certain ideas and perspective, but the real challenge is to change the default setting. To unlearn the behaviors that I’ve inherited,

This whole vomit is probably a little premature. I think I really just intended it to be a bit of rumination on the slow walk I took earlier, and how I think I’d like to take more slow walks. I’d like to be able to walk like a dancer dances– not necessarily seeking to go somewhere. Seeking just to appreciate the moment, appreciate the process. That can sound cheesy, I know, but where are we rushing to, anyway? The idea of getting more and more efficient and moving from point to point doesn’t really make sense as an end in itself, unless you’re very clear about where you’re going and why you’re going where you’re going, and how that’s supposed to serve you, your joy.

Ugghhhh I really don’t like the way I’m writing this! But I want to write about it anyway, as a reminder to myself that I took a slow walk and I really appreciate it. Maybe it wasn’t the most refined appreciation, but I think it’s something I’d like to try more, to do more often. At the very least… if I don’t have a good reason to walk fast, if I’m not in any particular rush, then why rush? Breathe.

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