"Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today I went for a power walk. I didn't intend to, but I did. It wasn't the kind of walk you think of when you hear power walk--intentional, driven, fast paced, on a mission. It was, actually, the opposite of what we know a power walk to be. And I didn't intend to redefine it, either. At the risk of being dramatic, it was one of those walks that leaves you just so thankful and restored. And full of power, but a quiet, peaceful power.
I started out on this walk knowing that I had to get at least 6 miles in, hopefully more. It was supposed to be a run/walk, preferably more run than walk, as per my coach. I am post big challenge (a "climb the height of Everest" challenge, to be exact) and I am tired. My body is tired, of course, but my mind is pretty wiped out. I am beginning to see the pattern, after these big challenges, of an emptied mind and a blue spirit as they rest and recover from doing the heavy lifting of any big undertaking. But this time, my mind is particularly spent. I coined the phrase Mind Grind as I was heading up the ski hill , for about the 200th time (literally)at the end of this challenge. That hamster-on-a-wheel grind, up and down 140 ft, over and over and over...it tired out my mind. Aside from sleeping, which I have been doing epically, I needed to rest and nurture my mind, and running wasn't the ticket. I had to help it recover, so I put on plain clothes and old shoes, I had a warm hat and comfort music. I planned a walking trip: errands that required a lot of miles, with no particular route, just destinations. My mind could rest. It was not required to sort out logistics, provide encouragement, get tough, push, cajole...none of it. Just along for the ride. The last thought on my mind was some kind of power walk.
I spent the next 3 1/2 hours, and 7 1/2 miles, walking through my Saturday afternoon feeling invisible and gaining power. I felt like I was in a movie, or filming a movie, capturing moments from unsuspecting actors in scenes that were set specifically for the script. First the day itself--a feeling of no definable day or time, punctuated by fall trees, overcast skies, with snow and crunching leaves underfoot; yard signs of all kinds, expressing all tenors of political opinion, my favorite being: DOGS 2020; being lost in thought, then becoming aware I'm on a path behind a church and along the creek--how did I end up here? I didn't even know this was here, after all these years...; in the distance an open tent in a parking lot with a line of cars--is it a COVID testing site? Oh, no, those people are voting...; the dogs and dogs and dogs, and the one that wouldn't leave me alone, that sat down and refused to move on and stared at me, what was he thinking?...the warm homes, all the different kinds of homes, and how their yards and signs and plants and toys and lack of toys and decorations tell their stories; the family coming out onto their porch (on cue as I am passing by) one by one in their socks to set out their newly carved pumpkins; the intentional eye contact and smiles from the people I pass; the smells of food cooking and fires burning; the kids and bikes and runners; the socially distanced soccer practice; the little boy biking down the sidewalk singing and dad in the street on his bike smiling--together and separate; the quick stop at the library--a reminder of the pandemic with the GRAB & GO signs and the librarian at the door counting the number of people going in and out--no book browsing today...the narrow stairs leading to a little gate and into a hidden yard...the decorations on a back porch for Halloween--just for them to see; the coffee midway that I carried with me and was so comforting...and the realization of how easy it is to walk...resting my mind. And how very strong my legs are and how I can, sometimes, let my body do the "heavy lifting" and just carry me. But mostly, when I let my mind rest, how the movement and nature and the world around me can fill me back up with a feeling of power.