Thursday, April 27, 2017

music walks

For several years I've seen this gal walking in my neighborhood, and by neighborhood I mean everywhere within the five mile radius that encompasses the places I frequent.  I see her every day, rain or shine, and she's incredibly focused on walking and seems to enjoy it greatly. I'm not sure she knows it, but she's inspirational. So much so that I found myself dreaming about long, aimless walks, and decided to strike out alone.

My dogs like to stroll the neighborhood, but they are 9 & 10 and value brevity. Since last summer, when Ella tore her ACL, our walks have been quite short.  It was tough to take that first step and strike out alone without them.  The first day I walked them around the block, took their leashes off and left them inside it was hard, and I cried for most of that first walk alone.  But it was a good for all of us. They flopped heavily and luxuriously on the cool wood floor and rested, ears raised a little at me leaving, but their faces content.  And though I struggled without them, I took off without any thought of finding resting places or water for them.

I didn't know anything was missing from my very full and happy life until I realized that the reason I enjoy seeing that gal walk everywhere is because that's what I wanted to do.  I, too, needed to take out and walk aimlessly, with only the small goal of putting one foot in front of the other.  

So last fall I began setting aside time for walks, and the tranquility, rumination and joy I reap from them is so enormous it's turned into a passion.

I am passionate about walking.  

I've always been fortunate to have an abundance of energy, so much energy that some of it converts to anxiety.  Since my teens, tennis has been my cure for that, and if I play enough tennis, I have a pretty decent zen attitude about life.  Walking, like tennis, also tackles my anxiety, but unlike tennis, does something entirely different for my psyche.  It gives me time to think and relax, and also to enjoy and be more in touch with my surroundings.

​When I started walking last fall I knew that music was a must, as it fuels me just as much as sleep and food.  Because I enjoy variety, I quickly came up with a  method that works beautifully so I'm not walking the same routes all the time.  My method also gives me a cutoff time so I'm not Forest Gumping it as I like to call it.

When I walk, I put my entire music library on shuffle (I have about 5,000 songs on any given day).  If the track that's currently playing is a cappella, instrumental, comedy, or poetry I turn right at whatever intersection I'm at.  If the track is rap or trap (I'm sure my dad is chuckling because these both rhyme with crap) I make a left. Everything else sends me straight. Occasionally a trap song will play when there's no option to turn left, or a poem, when there is no option to turn right.  This is when ask myself, "am I in the mood to go south or east today?" Though I'm impressed by those who walk and jog in the rain it's really not my cup of tea, so on days when there's a chance of rain I try to stay close to home.  Sometimes these attempts to stay near home are shot to hell, and I almost always get a laugh out of it.

Occasionally one track after another is spoken word or classical music and I end up walking the same 3 blocks for 6 miles.  When this happens I try to notice something different about the same street. This is when poetry happens. This is when I spot insects doing frightful bug things or an entire tea party spilling out of a gnome home at the base of a tree.    

So when do I stop? Because I'm constantly listening to new music I don't always like everything in my library. As soon as I've heard five songs I don't like I start heading home. On the way back I'll usually listen to an audiobook or let my ears take a breather.  I never know where I'm going to end up, whether I'll do 2 miles or 6. Occasionally I get so far away Robert will rescue me on the way home from whatever job he's leaving. 

I love the surprise of it.  I love finding new places and seeing both my neighborhood and the surrounding ones with a different perspective.  I used to think that all the streets and houses looked the same in my suburb, but after walking those streets hundreds of times, I now wholeheartedly disagree with that mindset.  Each house has a family that's made an effort to transform it into a home that reflects who they are.  Every one of those ordinary split levels is unique, sometimes in the tiniest way possible, like a lime green mailbox with purple polka dots.  Or sometimes in the most giant way possible, like the addition of a small porch packed with twinkle lights and rockers with pillows.  My favorite house has a collection of windmills in front.  You can barely see the ordinary house behind the garden of windmills growing in every shape and color, all whirring merrily in the wind.  

When I'm out on one of my music walks as I like to call them, the steps my feet take create the rhythm for mantras that my mind chews on like candy.  Let it go let it go.  hug it out hug it out.  And though I'm blaring the tunes, I'm mulling over my present concerns and worries and finding resolution and peace, and sometimes even surrender.

I rarely see people I know, but I still see that same gal, always deep in thought, walking her miles, and I know we'll likely never say hi. But we're both united by the same excitement we feel when we lace up our sneakers before a walk.

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