Ways of Walking

WaysofWalking

As I walk in my neighborhood, and observe others who walk, I’ve noticed there are at least four different postures people have when they walk. I know there are more, but these four seem to be the majority.

There are those who sit slightly back on their heels. The torso is straight but their center of gravity lies slightly behind. I often wonder how they achieve this posture while moving forward. But there it is. Some folks are perfectly in line, with their center of gravity being directly over the upside down V of their legs as they walk. Spine erect. Head tall. Arms straight. Other walkers lean slightly forward, almost as if pushing against a wind that isn’t there. Face and chin leads the way with arms pumping, propelling their body forward. And finally, there are a few whose hips are thrust forward but their shoulders and head are back. It seems as if they just rose out of an armchair and stayed in that position to walk.

I’ve often wondered, if I could interview each walker, whether their lives would reflect the posture they assume while walking. Would those who sit slightly back on their heels have a way of moving through life, definitely going forward, but on their own terms, feeling no need to keep up with the rat race? Would those who are perfectly centered in their walk also be centered and balanced in their life? Work and leisure have an even symmetry to their days, confidence and assurance describes most everything they do? Do the forward leaning walkers have a need to move with purpose as if they know where they are going and how they’re going to get there? Would the “armchair” walkers enjoy much of their life in an armchair, preferring reading to gardening, or watching TV to doing housework?

I fear that I fall into the jaunty, forward-moving-walker category. I have seen this in my shadow as I walk on sunny days. I even had a neighbor and fellow walker, just last week, say to me in his lovely Russian accent, “you exhibit a lot of energy when you walk!”  Ah ha. Well, yes, I suppose I do. And if I’m ever successful in convincing my husband to go walk with me, he is typically having to take my hand and say, “Saunter, Jen…let’s just saunter.”

It does cause me to pause and take stock of my life and how I’m living it. Am I moving through life with a desperate need to know the direction I’m headed and how I’m going to get there? Is there room for walking through life without having to keep up with the rat race? Is it possible to walk centered and balanced even if life is not? And could I have an attitude of “armchair leisure” about certain things I tend to hold a tight grip on?

These are just a few of the thoughts that go racing through my head as I walk. I do try to slow down a bit in the last half mile of my walk, just to remind myself what it’s like to saunter.  A year ago I couldn’t even walk at this time of year nor for quite a while after returning home from major surgery. So it feels good to be able to set my face and chin to the sun, swing my arms and GO!

Woolly Worm Considerations

WoollyPath

**From my recently published book of rhyming words, Words On A Line.

Woolly Predictions

As Autumn began to fall in these parts
Across my path a woolly albino darts.
Or rather chugs across where my feet will fall
Announcing in fur a mild winter for all.

But lo, as I walk through Autumn’s blaze,
I stop in my tracks each time to gaze
As the woolly transforms … a new colorful phase.
What is he saying with this latest craze?

It’s as if he’s tanning in the Autumn sun.
His once creamy coat turned sienna on his run.
Last week it was umber; I think he pokes fun
At me, who sees weather in the coat of one.

But today he has baked in the oven too long.
Charred all over, he chugs less quickly along.
Declaring to me Winter’s frightful song.
A flake falls as I muse—surely he’s wrong!

-jpe

11/16/2013

I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina where the woolly worm is a predictor of the winter’s weather. This fall, on my walks, the woolly worms were very confusing! They were, at first, albino looking, very pale and cream colored. Then they turned to a reddish brown and then to dark brown and then to black.  This was over a matter of about 8 weeks through mid-September until now. It’s been quite odd: I usually see them half one color, half another. Or in thirds. This tells you what the weather will be like at the beginning of winter and then in the middle part and then at the end. The darker the color, the worse the weather forecast! There’s even a Woolly Worm Festival in the mountains to celebrate all things woolly worm, much like the festival in Punksatawney, PA where they celebrate Phil, the groundhog who predicts whether there will be six more weeks of winter!!

***It does seem like the woolly worm may be right on target with our weather around here: sunny and 75 degrees one day, cold dreary and 32 degrees the next, rainy and mild (40’s) the next. If our weather can’t make up its mind, then I’m sure the woolly worm is as confused as we are here in the South!

*****AND, Don’t forget about the giveaway!! Enter to win a free copy of one of my books! Even if you’ve already purchased, you could receive one to give as a gift this Christmas!!

Searching & Finding

Day 1 at the beach: In less than half an hour of being out on the shore, I chance to look down and see a sea stone…beautifully rounded and smoothed by sand and water. This sets me on a course to find and collect more sea stones and sea glass thru the week.

Day 2: Bent over for much of the day in search of these jewels in stone and glass, I find nothing.

Day 3: Once again, hunched over in search of the elusive sea glass and stones, only to be empty handed at the end of the day.

Day 4: Having abandoned the search for these items, I see a glint of pale blue glass in the sand on my morning walk. Hmmm…

Day 5: At the start of my morning walk, I zero in on a promising mound of shells thinking surely this will be a place to find a stone or bit of glass… A good while later, I abandon said patch of promise with a “humph” and not five paces away, quite all by itself, the glint of a lovely piece of white sea glass greets me.

Evening of Day 5: Sitting by the ocean, thinking through my ever present search for what I’d like to draw next…I consider another self-portrait of sorts. In drawing “me” drawing on the shore, I find my shadow more compelling than the bits of me I can see… feet, legs, sketchbook, hands.

Day 6: Testing a growing suspicion that I may find what I’m looking for if I don’t look so hard, I set out on my morning walk. Something catches my eye, I bend over to see what it is, and I find it isn’t actually glass, but rather plastic . I see next to it a brown, gray stone. I cast it aside with the thought that it’s just an ordinary rock, but then quickly retrieve said “rock” thinking that it is every bit a sea stone, and why should I not accept and receive the brown and gray ones just like I would the white ones?

All of this searching and finding this week at the ocean has caused me to wonder about life: Do we search and search for what we’re looking for, only to find it when we stop searching? Or does it then find us? Do we have a tendency to search in places that seem right, only to find what we’re looking for in the most ordinary, unusual, and perhaps lonely places? Do we dismiss a gem-in-the-rough just because it doesn’t quite fit our idea of what “it” should be? Do we find that what surrounds us is more compelling than what we are? Do we have the thought that the shadow we cast may be more compelling than the inward search for who we are? What is it exactly that we’re searching for? Beauty? Eternal Truth? Peace? Sea glass? Sea stones? Shells?

And so many more delicious questions to think and muse upon. Other thoughts that float in and out of my mind and heart, like the waves upon the shore:…If you seek me with all your heart you will find Me…A well appeared where Hagar had not seen…His voice was not in the thunder and lightening, but in the still, small, whisper…I am the one you have been looking for…and , I am found.

It’s crazy what the ocean washes up on the shore, isn’t it?

Morning Walks

If and When

 
If I went out a ‘walking
for the whole live-long day
Would it be enough
to deal with the stuff
that in my heart holds sway?

Would it calm the storm
of worry and fear,
The jumble that rumbles within?
Would it shore up and strengthen
the places that are wearing thin?

Would it soothe the passion that
threatens to rage?
the struggle I strive to get down on the page?
The Beauty that aches and does not abate
will it fill? embolden? satiate?

Sometimes I think I could walk and walk
Beyond and o’er the rim
To that heavenly shore
or up the stalk
when this life’s welling doth brim.

But I cannot seem to get that far
try and try as I might
My feet, somehow,
they always return me
To home and family aright.

When I do go out a ’walking
I know I’ll come back again
Sooner, not later…
with heart full of stories, not worries,
And I feel more at home in my skin.

-jpe

11 December 2011